In addition to water main breaks, our aging infrastructure is poisoning millions of children with lead. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause irreparable damage even in trace amounts. We have been warned by numerous agencies and researchers, for example, the CDC, that no amount of lead is safe to ingest - none, as in zero (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, here, and here). And yet, amazingly, many cities and towns think their children are safe if they stay below the EPA's permissive 15 parts per billion. As if that were not bad enough, we know that many cities and towns are performing tests in ways that minimize the results.
Much of the damage caused by lead poisoning is irreparable. That damage includes anemia, kidney damage, brain damage, nervous system damage, mental retardation, and fertility and pregnancy problems. Death can occur in some cases and, generally speaking, children are much more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults.
Cities and towns that have recently found high levels of lead in their drinking water include Flint, Michigan; Sebring, Ohio; Granby, Massachusetts; and several towns in South Carolina. Some big cities, like Milwaukee and Chicago, may also be having lead problems. In any event, we know that children all across the country are drinking lead.
Aging infrastructure, combined with a bad water source, can cause other problems too, for example, Legionnaires' disease. This likely happened in Flint, Michigan where, as children were being poisoned by lead, about 87 people came down with Legionnaires' disease, at least one woman died, and another is on dialysis waiting for a kidney transplant ("Cases of Legionnaires' Disease create further concern in Flint," KNOE 8 News, February 14, 2016).
A few days ago, the editors of the New York Times highlighted the infrastructure problems associated with our drinking water and correctly pointed out that many areas will need state & federal assistance. The editors then declared, "There is no reason Congress cannot come up with the money."
In reality though, there are at least three major reasons why Congress cannot come up with the money to repair & improve our infrastructure.
1. Because we are spending $8 million per hour on perpetual war. By this time tomorrow, we will have spent another $192 million to keep our destabilizing war-machine rolling.
2. Because Republicans, Tea Partiers, and Wall Street Democrats are committed to keeping taxes low on the super-wealthy - mainly because the super-wealthy have paid them to do so, through campaign contributions, speaking fees, promises of lucrative jobs when they leave Congress, and Lord knows what else. Indeed, Republican and Tea Party politicians actually want to lower taxes for their super-wealthy donors again (as if the last four decades of gargantuan tax-cuts-for-the-rich have not caused enough damage already - for example, crumbling & outdated infrastructure).
3. Because many corporations and super-wealthy Americans are engaging in rampant tax avoidance and tax evasion. And, making matters worse, many politicians in Congress are protecting this unethical and illegal activity by trying to de-fund the IRS and by trying to eliminate tools used to catch tax evaders. With respect to the latter, a global financial expert said, "It is mind-boggling that a major political party [the GOP/Tea Party] would even consider endorsing a resolution to facilitate tax evasion."