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Corrosion, leaks and breaks in old-technology pipe materials are degrading our water delivery and sewage treatment systems, which are critical to public health and the environment.

According to a 2023 Utah State University report North America experiences 710 water main breaks a day, totaling $2.6 billion in annual repair costs. This doesn’t include the high costs of emergency equipment, depleted water supply, traffic disruptions, and lost work time. Experts note that corrosion is the leading cause of this water main break epidemic.

Corrosion is a significant drag on the economy, costing U.S. drinking water and wastewater systems over $50.7 billion annually, or more than $1 trillion dollars over the next twenty years. Not only is this cost calculated in terms of water main break repair, but also in terms of lost water, replacement of corroded pipes and implementation of corrosion-mitigation measures, which are ineffective since they only delay an unavoidable outcome.

Today’s corrosion crisis is due to the materials used in America’s underground pipe networks over the last 100 years. At first, cast iron was used, with ductile iron gradually replacing it. Both now suffer from the ravages of corrosion.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has consistently given poor marks to the nation’s public drinking and wastewater systems, saying hundreds of billions must be spent over the next two decades for upgrades and replacements.

Taxpayers are fed up. Local governments are scrambling for solutions.