||The U.S. EPA estimates that there are approximately 240,000 water main breaks per
year in the United States (U.S. EPA, 2011a). While drinking water system assets, particularly
pipes buried underground, can last for many years, this infrastructure largely goes
unnoticed until a failure occurs that disrupts the delivery of water to the community’s
homes and businesses.
Many factors contribute to the need to reinvest in our nation’s water infrastructure.
The pricing of water services should accurately reflect the true costs of providing
safe drinking water to consumers, a strategy known as full cost pricing (U.S. EPA,
2012a). But because of historically low water rates due to longevity of water system
assets, deferred maintenance, and governmental subsidies, many rate payers resist
increases in their water bills and water systems have traditionally found it difficult
to raise rates to pay for needed future capital investments (American Water, 2011a).
The effects of our aging infrastructure coupled with our changing climate have heightened
the urgency to reinvest in water infrastructure for many utilities over the past decade.
Substantial educational and outreach materials have been developed for national and
state level Value of Water campaigns to support this investment. Water systems and
water associations are taking the lead in establishing communication with their communities
and best practices should be shared across the industry on how to effectively communicate
the great need of repairing and replacing our nation’s infrastructure.