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America’s Aging Water Pipes: Is Your Tap Water at Risk?

America’s aging drinking water infrastructure is impacting people throughout the country. Unsafe lead levels in tap water have been discovered from Flint to Tampa. Florida Today reported that nearly 50,000 people in the Sunshine State might have been exposed to unsafe lead levels between January 2012 and June 2015. Continue reading to learn more about America’s aging water pipe problem and how it may be impacting you.

poor water quality, winter haven flAmerica’s Water Infrastructure: Barely Passing

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues an Infrastructure Report Card. They grade the U.S. on critical infrastructure categories such as drinking water, hazardous waste, roads, and bridges. On the 2021 ASCE Report Card, the nation’s drinking water infrastructure system received a C+. According to their analysis:

  • Every 2 minutes, a water main breaks in the United States of America.
  • 6 billion gallons of treated water is lost each day (that is enough water to fill over 9,000 swimming pools!)
  • Utilities are struggling to keep pace with emerging contaminants in water such as lead, copper, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Think Florida is beating the rest of the country? We aren’t, according to our civil engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Based on the latest report from the EPA, we need to invest about $16.5 billion in improvements over the next 20 years to ensure our water is safe and reliable. Florida Today reported that the worst lead problems in our state have been found in churches, schools, daycare centers, mobile home parks, and old private water systems. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of individuals, many children, in our state have tested positive for unsafe blood lead levels.

Why is Lead Such a Big Problem?

Lead isn’t the only harmful contaminant that could be coming out of your faucet. But, it is one of the most dangerous. Unlike many other pollutants, there are no safe levels of lead. Even small amounts of lead can cause severe damage to the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, and kidneys. Lead exposure is especially harmful to children and pregnant women. It can permanently impair children’s neurological and physical development. In addition, it can cause pregnant women to miscarry, give birth prematurely, or have a stillbirth.

Lead exposure and poisoning is a widespread problem because it was a common component in plumbing until 1986. According to the EPA, there are around 6 to 10 million lead service lines across the nation. Approximately 400,000 schools and childcare facilities are exposed to lead due to corroding plumbing pipes.

Additional Drinking Water Risks

Toxic heavy metals aren’t the only threats posed by our aging pipes. Viruses and bacteria are also a cause for concern. When water mains break or sewer pipes leach fecal matter into local rivers and aquifers, your drinking water can be contaminated. In addition, aging treatment plants can fail to remove all bacteria or parasites from your drinking water.

water testing, bartow flIs My Water at Risk?

Are aging pipe problems impacting your water’s quality? The only way to know is to have your water tested. Even though federal regulations require municipal water suppliers to test the water they provide regularly, their reports don’t tell the whole story. Many contaminants originate closer to your home than the treatment plant where the water is tested.

If you live in Tampa FL, Lakeland FL, or the surrounding area, call Tri-Florida Water Treatment to schedule a FREE in-home water analysis! We are certified Department of Environmental Protection Water Plant Operators. We will be happy to explain your water quality results. If you need a water treatment solution, we’ll work with you to find the best option to protect your health and improve water taste.