In Part II of this article, we are looking at flushability from another perspective. Today we will take a look at the condition of U.S. plumbing and wastewater infrastructure. These waterways are the channels in which waste from toilets arrive to be processed at municipal wastewater treatment plants. These plants will process the wastewater to either return it for secondary uses or discard it.
About 75% of homes in the Unites States are connected to around 800,000 miles of municipal sewer pipes and canals that run underground. Many of these pipes and canals are near, or past their useful life. For example, Pre-WWII pipes have a useful life of about 120 years. Pipes installed after WWII have a lifespan of around 75 years.
Investment into maintaining and upgrading our pipes, canals and plants is critical to account for an aging infrastructure, a growing population and, technological advancements. Generally speaking, maintenance of our crucial waterway infrastructure has been underfunded by a margin of more than 50+%, for decades! Our government is simply not investing enough of our tax dollars into updating these critical pipes and canals. We are coming up billions of dollars short, every year.
This should be of concern to all of us because neglect like this will send major ripples throughout our economy. How? The quick answer: Contaminated water + water borne illness + water bills + unemployment = GO UP. Quality of life + economic impact = HIT HARD. Cumulative economic losses are estimated as high as $7.5 TRILLION* from years 2011 – 2040.[*Substantiated by table 3 of “Failure to Act” report; not shown in this article.]
Although preventive “conservation” and “sustainability” methods practiced helps reduce deterioration of our aging waterways (like low-flow toilets, water recycling, etc.), these methods alone are not enough to solve the underlying problem of our aging infrastructure.
Which are the most critically underfunded U.S. regions?
All of them. Especially, if you live in the state of (in no particular order): Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, or New York.
What does this have to do with me using wipes?
Recklessly flushing just any kind of wipe is damaging. But the blame is not just, “evil wipe manufacturers”. There are other forces that undermine our aging and imperfect waterways, too. Everything from old shifted pipes, corrosion, tree roots, extreme weather conditions, to pipe failure, and sludge accumulation.
OK, so what can I do to be a part of the solution?
First of all, write your local congressman with your concerns about these deteriorating yet underfunded infrastructure matters. Try to add specifics like citing newspaper articles which report on pipe failures in your town or community.
Second, be sure to use only Tidymates® flushable wipes which are independently tested and scientifically proven to be 3X more dispersible than leading national brands of flushable wipes.
Having a drain line inspection every couple years is an inexpensive, proactive measure that can save thousands of dollars in plumbing related problems down the road. When was the last time you had your own pipes checked? Usually for around $90-$120, you can get a drain line inspection and cleaning to ensure your sewer lines are in good condition. Homes greater than 20 years old and homes built on properties dense with trees should have their plumbing inspected more often (consider once every 12-18 months).
In our next (and final) segment, Part III, we share the one tool you MUST HAVE to become a more informed and environmentally responsible consumer. We will also highlight organizations that are tackling some of these issues, and helping to bring positive change from their efforts, both on the consumer side and on the regulatory side.
Following us on IG or FB, yet? Find us under “Tidymates”
www.asce.org – “Failure to Act” READ REPORT
www.infrastructurereportcard.org – “REPORT CARD”
[In our previous segment, Part 1, of this article, we discussed how many different kinds of wipe products have flooded the market in recent decades. Why more than 90% of wipes products are deemed non-flushable. We also shared what we all need to do to avoid unwittingly buying the kinds of wipes with bogus “flushable” claims on their packaging.]