Thursday, March 1, 2012

THE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE CRISIS

The Premier has not commented on the pitch from St. John's Mayor 'Doc" O'Keefe's for a new funding approach for the city of St. John's.


The city is facing an unprecedented infrastructure crisis.

The pair might be relieved to learn that North America's oldest city is not alone in trying to find ways to deal with disintegrating municipal infrastructure.  The US could be facing a $1 trillion plumbing bill.
 
According to an industry study, that is how much it will cost over the next 25 years to mend or replace the disintegrating pipes that carry drinking water throughout cities and build new ones to accommodate a rising population

Like those old water lines in the older parts of St. John's,  water main infrastructure is reaching the end of its lifespan and is decaying rapidly. With the current debates and concerns over water policy, particularly water metering, in St.John's, the role of under-maintained infrastructure is pivotal.

How much of our municipal water is lost, in the ground, from the two major and five smaller water sources for the city? A lot. The city has implemented a leak detection strategy to try and find the problem areas and repair them.

Apparently, no one considered the the magnitude of the challenge!  So much for planners and policy-makers at all levels.


Before we get all judgmental on the folks at city hall, how many of you thought to re-plumb your house before the copper started spring leaks? How many stories have I heard about a pinhole leak in a copper water pipe creating disastrous situations for folks who where away on holidays, or a weekend? They come back to find the floors buckled, plaster ruined and much of their houses damaged.

Plumbers and Insurance industry types that I know,  tell me,  that damage from corroded copper pipes is on the rise. The reason is that a lot of houses build in the 1970's, 80's and even the early 90's, that were plumbed with copper, need to be re-plumbed. Copper, the gold standard of the plumbing industry for many years, is only good for 25-30 years, not 50 as advertised.



Other theories include: Bad copper was installed, or the installation was improper. For example, the copper may be wearing because it's rubbing against a wall, or the soldering flux may not have been properly flushed out; Copper pipes that are used to ground electrical wiring are picking up stray and corrosive electrostatic charges from the recent installation of cable, computer and other high-tech wiring in houses;  A theory considered bizarre is that  electrons from cell phones, TV remote controls, computers and even microwave towers are simply bombarding the pipes.

One plumber told me that if you have had three leaks within six or eight months, it is time to replace all of your pipes.

 Considering  the rash of major water main breaks in this city, that rule would make for an expensive repair job for the public works department!


1 comment:

Wm. Murphy said...

where is the picture of your background? Is it in NL?