The following op-ed was published in The Post Standard on March 30, 2021 and was written by Rob Hayes, Director of Clean Water at EANY.
If your child came home with a C-minus on their report card, you might be disappointed. But if the pipes that delivered water to your home received a C-minus from plumbing professionals, you’d have cause for serious alarm.
C-minus is the grade given to our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). According to their report, “There is a water main break every two minutes, and an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water lost each day in the U.S.”
The steady decline of our water infrastructure across the U.S., and especially here in New York, has been widely documented. There were 234 water main breaks in Syracuse in 2018. There are also an estimated 15,000 lead service lines spread across the city, which connect water mains to your home’s internal plumbing. Every year, outdated wastewater pipes discharge millions of gallons of raw sewage into local lakes and rivers.
Our state government must play a critical role in this effort — and thankfully, we’re off to a good start. Since 2015, New York state has invested almost $4 billion to provide grants to communities in dire need of major water infrastructure improvements. Onondaga County has received over $15 million of funding from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, including a $2 million grant to the City of Syracuse in 2019 to replace the roof over one of the city’s water tanks, which had partially collapsed the year before.