18 Apr Using mapping technology to improve our aging water infrastructure
When asked to describe our nation’s aging infrastructure, most people would likely complain about the potholes in their neighborhoods or the transit systems that are always running late. Yet hiding beneath our feet is one of the most vital components of the infrastructure – underground water pipes. While many of us take for granted our access to safe drinking water, it isn’t just Flint, Mich., but dozens of cities and communities across the country that have postponed for decades projects to replace or upgrade municipal water pipes.
According to the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA’s) 2021 State of the Water Industry report, the renewal and replacement of water and wastewater infrastructure is among its most important issues. In fact, the vast majority of underground water pipelines in the U.S. are either nearing or have already surpassed their useful lifespan and will need to be replaced within the next two decades.
Consistent with the AWWA report, in 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency’s 6th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment indicated that in the next 20 years $472.6 billion will be required to maintain and improve the nation’s drinking water infrastructure. To ensure the public health, security, and economic well-being of our cities, towns, and communities, thousands of miles of pipe as well as thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks, and other key assets must be evaluated.
How have we gotten to this dire state of affairs? The lack of funding has been a common excuse – one that will no longer hold water. Signed into law in November 2021, the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act seeks to provide significant investment in rehabilitating and updating our water infrastructure. This federal law reauthorizes many existing drinking water programs, appropriates expanded funding for water infrastructure and other programs, and commits $15 billion for lead service line replacement. The AWWA has compiled a document highlighting drinking water and wastewater provisions as well as related resources for water utilities and news about the Infrastructure Act.
With funding now available, the next challenge for the water industry to collaborate with state and local governments in implementing the programs established by this law in a cost-effective and timely manner. Innovative technologies should have an important role to play. Some companies are already developing predictive analytics to identify potential asset failures and accelerate repairs.
At Prezerv our team is focusing on providing accurate 3D maps of the underground. Using Prezerv’s proprietary maps, excavators and contractors working to repair old water pipes or installing new ones can avoid damaging existing buried infrastructure. In this way Prezerv maps can significantly reduce costs by accelerating the project timelines and enabling water infrastructure owners and operators to effectively maintain their assets on an ongoing basis.
Prezerv: using underground mapping technology to help ensure all our communities have clean drinking water.