Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A 1953 water main breaks in Washington, D.C. "Havoc" ensues.

(A water main broke in Washington, D.C., yesterday, on 12th Street NW. Photo by D.C. Water.)

A water main installed in 1953 broke in our nation's capital yesterday, causing many problems. The D.C. metro could not run on some of its tracks, commuters were late to work, and as people sought different routes a woman reported, “Everybody was nasty. It was awful. I got pushed into a gentleman, and he pushed me back” ("Crews work to fix 12-inch water main break in downtown D.C. that snarled commute," Washington Post, December 16, 2014).

The water main that broke was 61 years old, but a spokesman for D.C. Water said, "We have pipes dating to the 1860s, the Civil War. The median age of our pipes is 79 years old, which means more than half of them are older than this one." 

According to a 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers report, Washington, D.C. is having serious infrastructure issues. For example, almost all of the major roads are in poor condition, 21 bridges are structurally deficient, $1.6 billion is needed for its drinking water infrastructure, and $2.5 billion is needed for its wastewater infrastructure (see infrastructure graphic at "State Facts: District of Columbia").

(WPA workers in Washington, D.C., installing a sewer line. Between 1935 and 1943, WPA workers installed 56 miles of water lines, and 125 miles of sewer lines, in our nation's capital. Photo from "Work: A Journal of Progress," 1936.)

We could start putting major investments towards our nation's infrastructure, just as New Deal policymakers did, but our Republican-led Congress is focused on too many other things, such as returning us to the days of publicly-insured bank fraud, making sure that they get more money from the super-wealthy, and handing over Indian ancestral grounds to a mining company with a sketchy environmental record and ties to Iran. Democrats, for their part, are drooling for some corporate money too--so, outside of a few people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they're not protesting too much.

And that's too bad, because the water mains of Washington, D.C. could use a New Deal.

No comments:

Post a Comment