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While it may not be on everyone’s calendar, this week marks the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) annual Drinking Water Week. For more than 40 years, AWWA and its members have celebrated this unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to recognize the vital role water plays in our daily lives.
Getting the Lead Out aims to remind people to identify and replace lead-based water pipes and plumbing. Lead presents health concerns for people of all ages, particularly pregnant women, infants and young children. In children, low exposure levels have been linked to learning disabilities, behavioral problems and other issues. Water leaving treatment plants and traveling through water mains is almost always lead-free. However, lead is sometimes present in pipes connecting older homes to the water system or in fixtures and home plumbing. A licensed plumber can help to identify lead service lines and other materials such as lead fittings and solder.
Check and Fix Leaks encourages homeowners to check and fix leaks inside and outside the home to prevent water waste. To test for leaks inside, customers should shut off everything connected to water and inspect the home’s flow indicator on the water meter. If the indicator continues to move, even with everything off, there’s a leak somewhere in the home. To check for a leaky toilet, customers can place a few drops of food coloring in the holding tank and wait five minutes without flushing. There’s a leak if coloring appears in the bowl. Also, customers should check all faucets and under the sinks for dripping. To check for leaks outside, customers should inspect the lawn for wet spots or pools of water around spray heads. Brown or muddy spots would also indicate there is a leak in the irrigation system.
Caring for Pipes reminds people to care for their homes’ pipes. Many things can unnecessarily clog a home’s plumbing system, including “flushable” wipes, and fats, oils and grease. Each year, these clog pipes, back up systems and harm the environment when they aren’t disposed of properly. Specifically, flushable wipes, facial tissue, paper towels and medications should be thrown away in the trash and should not be flushed down the toilet. Also, fats, oil and grease should not be dumped down the drain. Instead, they should also be thrown away in the trash.
Water Infrastructure Investment is critical to the public health, economic vitality, fire protection and quality of life. However, much of the water infrastructure in North America needs to be repaired and replaced because of the length of time water pipes have been underground, some have been buried for 75 to 100 years. Per an AWWA report, repairing and replacing drinking water infrastructure will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years. The potential costs of infrastructure replacement surpass what many water utilities can pay, which means utilities must work together with rate-payers, government officials and other stakeholders to invest in water systems.
For more on how the AWWA is celebrating, please visit the Drinking Water Week webpage.