Leaky pipes lose an estimated 2.6 trillions gallons of drinking water every year, or about 17% of all water pumped in the United States. One reason the situation is so bad is that water utilities use corrosion-prone materials. Corrosion represents a $50.7 billion annual drain on the economy. So says a new study by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
One way to save billions of dollars would be to open up the system to consideration of a wider variety of piping materials.
“Today’s modern piping technology is vastly superior in performance and life expectancy than what was being built in the ground throughout most of the 20th century,” states the report. A shift in pipe selection from iron materials to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) potentially could generate savings of $370 billion nationwide.
“While innovative and cost-effective products and technologies are readily available, these products are often excluded from consideration.” The report cites the “habituation factor,” or “the tendency of government officials to select the materials they are comfortable with and have used for years.”
ALEC calls for opening up the procurement process to consider a wider variety of piping materials that meet recognized standards set by the American Society of Testing Materials and the American Water Works Association.
While we’re at it, when we install new pipes, why don’t we embed them with sensors that tell us if they do begin to leak? The prospect of saving $51 billion a year will pay for a lot of retrofitting!