Some people worry that the size of the water and wastewater infrastructure replacements necessary during the next decade will be too costly for any one organization to handle on its own. One of the biggest challenges facing the United States is how to improve and maintain infrastructure to ensure safe water and wastewater services. Infrastructure problems associated with aging pipes, outdated systems, and inadequate capacity to meet growing population are requiring huge investments in upgrades to water and wastewater infrastructure systems.
Education is key. At the Water Environment Federation's 79th Annual Technology Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), American Water will take visitors on a trip inside America's underground infrastructure. Experts from American Water will point out some of the most common problems associated with the crumbling, aging infrastructure and will highlight a variety of solutions to address this national problem, including trenchless technology construction.
"Trenchless technology techniques require little to no excavation to install making them an attractive alternative to traditional dig and replace methods," said Mark Harris, president of American Water's Underground Infrastructure Group. "These methods have been used for decades to successfully renew buried infrastructure, and its popularity continues to grow steadily."
In addition to trenchless technology, American Water will feature its broad range of solutions available for nearly any problem imaginable with buried infrastructure, including Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP), deformed/reformed HDPE, cementitious manhole lining, and lateral sealing and lining. Whatever solution, the end result is a structurally- and hydraulically-renewed system with an expanded service life of at least 50 years.
To continue to ensure safe drinking water, the nation's water utilities will need to make an estimated $277 billion in investments over the next 20 years, according to EPA's third Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. This large national need reflects the challenges confronting water utilities as they deal with aging infrastructures that were constructed 50 to 100 years ago in many cases.
Many problems with infrastructure originate in a variety of locations throughout the system including the main pipeline, manholes or service laterals, which can range from physical obstructions (roots, debris, intrusions or buildup) to structural deterioration (corrosion or cracking) or total collapse. These structurally-, hydraulically- and environmentally-inadequate systems are a major public health and safety concern that, when ignored, can cause backups, overflows and sinkholes.
Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for the Office of Water, was quoted saying "Water infrastructure is a lifeline for community health and prosperity. As our communities grow, so too must the commitment of the government and citizens to sustainable financing, innovative management and technology, and efficient use of water."
American Water invests some $600 million annually on infrastructure to ensure the integrity and sustainability of its utilities.
American Water will also feature its complete portfolio of products and services including the newly introduced LineSaver(TM) program for municipalities designed to protect homeowners from unexpected high costs of water line and sewer line repairs while generating revenue for the community with no additional investment and minimal labor requirements.