Friday, August 1, 2014

Maryland Water Main Break: Six million gallons of water that WPA workers could have saved

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Just two days after the massive July 29 UCLA water main break--costing that area 8-10 million gallons of water--a large water main break occurred in Hyattsville, Maryland (see "6 million gallons of water flow onto Hyattsville, Md. roadway after huge water main break"). The Hyattsville water main was installed around 1942 (perhaps by WPA crews) and has far outlived its life expectancy. The UCLA water main was installed around 1921.

Just these two breaks have caused a loss of about 14-16 million gallons of water.  And, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), "There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States" (see the ASCE Infrastructure Report Card here).

The WPA installed 16,000 miles of new water lines between 1935 and 1943. Why can't we create a new WPA to modernize our infrastructure, and give the long-term unemployed work opportunities, just like the old WPA did? Well, probably because Republican and Tea Party politicians are too busy preparing to sue President Obama--in an effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and thus deprive low-income Americans of health insurance--to spend very much time thinking about our deteriorating infrastructure.

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