From today’s NYTimes comes another in their series of articles on water. Today’s piece discusses the crumbling infrastructure in Washington, D.C. The destruction of this system and others like it all over the country is the legacy of our misspent prosperity and our legislators’ inability to tackle even the (seemingly) simplest of problems that face us.
Today, a significant water line bursts on average every two minutes somewhere in the country, according to a New York Times analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data. In Washington alone there is a pipe break every day, on average, and this weekend’s intense rains overwhelmed the city’s system, causing untreated sewage to flow into the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.
State and federal studies indicate that thousands of water and sewer systems may be too old to function properly.
For decades, these systems — some built around the time of the Civil War — have been ignored by politicians and residents accustomed to paying almost nothing for water delivery and sewage removal. And so each year, hundreds of thousands of ruptures damage streets and homes and cause dangerous pollutants to seep into drinking water supplies.
This is what we will leave our children: a broken-down system incapable of delivering the water we need to survive because no one wants to pay for it. The unrealistic expectations of the masses with respect to their desire for low tax bills are sure to turn into outrage (or worse) when the taps run dry. It’s our own fault.