Our country’s roads, bridges, and transit systems are all in dire need of infrastructure upgrades and overhauls. Some experts argue they are more than three decades behind in repair and replacement.
But what is even more crucial and concerning and less talked about is the deterioration of the infrastructure related to safe drinking water and the safe elimination of wastewater.
Good, safe, reliable drinking water is critical to life, health, and safety.
Since indoor plumbing became common in the United States in the late 1800s, with Chicago being the first U.S. city to have a comprehensive sewer system in 1880, safe drinking water has all but eliminated such diseases as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery here.
To bring water to homes and businesses, the United States relies on a web of aging underground pipes, and these pipes are reaching their end of life usefulness. Water systems barely get a thought unless there is a system failure. These pipes are showing their age, with roughly 240,000 water main breaks per year, at a cost of $2.6 billion, and that figure doesn’t take into account the personal loss of property damage.
Water systems across the country are failing at a rapid rate, and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), estimates the failure of drinking water and wastewater systems could reach $1 trillion per year.
According to an October 25, 2018 article by Stormwater Solutions, “New Report Analyzes the State of U.S. Water Infrastructure,” local governments “pay for more than 95% of drinking water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure, with states making up most of the difference.” And it’s not inexpensive. The article goes on to state that “projects related to water will cost more than $532 billion in the coming decade, an increase of 28% from the previous decade.”
This is why the DuPage County Board unanimously approved a $118.5 million dollar capital project at the January 15th board meeting, which will upgrade, enhance, and protect the safety of DuPage County’s water supply, distribution systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems (Resolution PW-R-0031-19). This resolution will allow DuPage County to be proactive in upgrading countywide water systems.
The first leg of the current capital program will focus on the Nordic Plant, with an $8.5 million project set to begin in 2020.
Safe drinking water and better wastewater management are critical to public health. Through proactive planning, DuPage County is preparing for necessary upgrades and maintenance, which will also include mandated state and federal government directives and guidelines, and will meet the needs of our residents for the next 20 years.