Water: A Billion Gallons A Month Down the Drain


High Bridge Aqueduct, Harlem River, New York City. Edwin Levick, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Delivering safe, healthy water has been one of the main functions of government for as long as there have been governments, building aqueducts in Roman times and more recently across the Harlem River. Water is also political, as we have seen from Atlanta to Wisconsin this year. But that hasn't stopped our current governments from letting the infrastructure fall to ruin.

Two hours north of New York City, there is a lovely stream and marsh where people come to drink the cool, fresh water; in fact is is a leak of 36 million gallons a day from the Delaware Aqueduct, a billion gallons a month. (nor is this news, Andy Revkin wrote about it in 2002)


Croton Reservoir, 5th Ave and 42nd Street, New York, 1898 Hirz/Getty Images

All over America, pipes are breaking. According to the New York Times:

"In Chicago, an 80-year-old cast-iron water main broke earlier this year, spilling thousands of gallons and opening up a 25-foot hole in the street.

In Denver, up to 4 million gallons of water gushed from a ruptured 30-year-old pipeline in February, gouging a sinkhole across three lanes of Interstate 25. The lanes were shut down for nearly two weeks.

Cleveland has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure in the past 20 years but still must repair daily breaks. Last month, a break in a 2 1/2-foot-diameter water main turned a downtown square into a watery crater and knocked out other utilities.

The amount of wasted water from these breaches is staggering."

The fact that it has come to this, where half the nation doesn't know where its water is going to come from, and the other half is pissing it down the drain, is even more staggering. ::New York Times


View of the Croton Dam on the Hudson River, Croton, New York, twentieth century. (Photo by Frederic Lewis/Getty Images)

More TreeHugger on Water:
How to Green Your Water
Water Weirding: American Southwest on Uncertain Ground :
Water Running Out in Atlanta