America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructures are approaching peril.
According to the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, our drinking water systems earn a grade of “C-” while our wastewater and stormwater systems are currently pulling “D” and “D+” grades, respectively. When you consider the new segments being added to a deeply complex existing grid—increasing the risk when it comes to dangerous cross bores—and the simultaneously aging segment of pipes and facilities facing deterioration, it is clear that an infrastructure investment in the replacement and repair of our nation’s water facilities and pipes is of critical importance.
America’s drinking water infrastructure includes 2.2 million miles of underground piping that deliver clean, safe, and reliable drinking water to millions of people across the country. The 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure reports a water main break every two minutes—the consequence of which is approximately 6 billion gallons of treated water lost every day (enough to provide clean drinking water to 60,000 households [Source: Watersmart]).
Access to clean and safe drinking water is imperative to public health and economic success. Our aging infrastructure system needs funding, training, and tools that evaluate asset condition and risk to help prioritize capital.
The expansion of urban development has stretched the nation’s 16,000 wastewater treatment plants to 81% capacity, with 15% reaching or exceeding capacity (Source: 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure). As our strained wastewater system continues to age past its useful lifespan, new infrastructure is needed to keep up with demand. Moreover, our nation’s 800,000 miles of public sewer pipes are in need of routine maintenance, repair, upgrades, and replacement—increasing the risk when it comes to dangerous cross bores and expanding the need for pre and post inspections on a large scale across America.
There are approximately 3.5 million miles of storm sewers in the U.S. that collect stormwater (rain or snowmelt) from roadways, buildings, parking lots, and agricultural areas, and transport it into streams, rivers, lakes, bays, or oceans to prevent flooding.
Flooding is one of the nation’s greatest natural hazards and bears devastating effects on public health and safety as well as the economy. It is critical that our nation’s stormwater infrastructure projects are properly funded and executed to meet the expansion of cities and suburbs so that urban flooding—which takes lives and results in $9 billion in damages annually—is not exacerbated.
Video Pipe Inspections Identify Failing Infrastructure
In addition to increased funding and training, our nation’s water infrastructure investment must include improved quality control of our pipes and systems. Pipes should be regularly inspected as part of a routine maintenance process to ensure damages are caught right away and can be repaired or replaced as quickly as possible.
Video Sewer Inspection and Video Pipe Inspection are excellent ways to determine if a pipe needs to be repaired or completely replaced. GPRS Video Pipe Inspection Services can inspect water and sewer pipes with our video crawler cameras (CCTV), inspect previously hidden sewer lateral lines via our lateral launch cameras, map complete pipe and sewer systems, and provide detailed NASSCO reports on the interior condition of pipes. Our fleet of technology even includes push cameras for smaller, hard to reach pipes.
As our infrastructure and systems expand alongside advancements in the utility industry’s ability to install new fiber lines via directional drilling, pre and post inspections are more important than ever. GPRS can perform these inspections during the directional drilling process with our Video Pipe Inspection Services via CCTV.
The nation’s network of wastewater treatment facilities continues to grow, presenting multiple challenges when excavating, drilling, or saw cutting. As a critical facility, utilities and other underground assets must be protected during construction. GPRS achieves damage prevention by invoking our Utility Locating Services and Video Pipe Inspection Services.
Spanning long distances, water and sewer pipelines can have many potential utility crossings. During the installation of water and sewer pipes, underground utilities must be located prior to excavation. GPRS can also locate utilities prior to excavation when repairing or replacing existing water pipes, sewer lines, or lateral sewer lines.
The importance of our nation’s water and sewer systems in maintaining public health, protecting the environment, and promoting economic prosperity are indisputable. It’s beyond time for a national conversation about the dire state of our water infrastructure and the looming consequences across the country, increasing funding and training, and leveraging technologies like those used in our ground penetrating radar services to mitigate risk and keep infrastructure projects running on time.
GPRS envisions a tomorrow with the capability of 100% subsurface damage prevention. To learn more about GPRS technology and services and the ways in which we support the water and sewer industry, visit our website here.