Atlanta Water Main Breaks Indicative of Larger US Infrastructure Woes

The recent water challenges in Atlanta highlight broader infrastructure issues affecting large areas across the country, according to experts.

Last week, Atlanta experienced three water main breaks, disrupting water supply to numerous residents. While one significant pipe has been repaired, many residents remained under a boil water advisory for several days.

According to the Hill, the issue is just one example of the problems caused by the nation’s aging and often brittle water systems.

“A lot of our water infrastructure was built between 50 to 100 years ago, so there’s quite a bit of it that’s at the end of its service life and we see this in water main breaks,” said Richard Luthy, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Stanford University. 

He said main breaks are a “common story” in older cities; “it’s just a symptom that these need to be replaced.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated in 2021 that a water main breaks every two minutes in the U.S. — leaking enough water to fill 9,000 swimming pools each day. 

“We have not invested in our infrastructure the way we should,” said Darren Olson, chair of the group’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure.

The implications of such breaks are not only a loss of water access for consumers, but also for essential services.

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