The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Amy Kober, 206-213-0330 x23

Washington D.C. Water Main Break Is Example of National Water Infrastructure Problems

American Rivers is securing funding and providing 21st century solutions to nation’s cities


The water main break that flooded southern Adams Morgan is an example of broader water infrastructure problems nationwide, American Rivers said today.

"Unfortunately, this disaster is part of a larger trend," said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. "Our nation's water infrastructure is in a serious state of disrepair. Whether it is a water main break, a failing levee, or an unsafe dam, outdated infrastructure puts lives, property, and clean water at risk."

America's water infrastructure -- our pipes, wastewater and drinking water systems, dams, and levees -- is in a serious state of disrepair. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave a D-minus grade to the water and wastewater systems that protect Americans' health and safety -- the lowest grade of any infrastructure category. Global warming will only make the problem worse, bringing more floods, droughts, and waterborne diseases.

American Rivers noted the importance of providing essential repair and maintenance to existing water infrastructure, but also urged cities to embrace green solutions that are cheaper and more flexible than traditional infrastructure. In particular, cities should do more to reduce overall water consumption by implementing water efficiency solutions.

American Rivers helped secure over $6 billion in economic recovery funds for clean water and water infrastructure improvements, with 20 percent dedicated for water efficiency and green infrastructure projects.

Thanks to the economic recovery funds, Maryland was able to award $2.6 million to the City of Baltimore for water efficiency retrofits. These projects will not only lower expenses, but also take pressure off of strained pipes and treatment plants.

"We are at a transformational moment," said Wodder. "It is time to bring our water infrastructure into the 21st century. Cities must embrace a modern approach to water that reduces per capita water use and integrates green solutions, recognizes changing climatic conditions, and helps ensure community safety and security."

American Rivers called on communities big and small to adopt green infrastructure, which has three critical components:

* Protect healthy landscapes like forests and small streams that naturally sustain clean water supplies.
* Restore degraded landscapes like floodplains and wetlands so they can better store flood water and recharge streams and aquifers.
* Replicate natural water systems in more urban settings, to capture rainwater for outdoor watering and other uses and prevent stormwater and sewage pollution.

"This water main break, and the water main break on Montgomery County's River Road last December were bad enough," said Wodder. "We don't need any more wake up calls. The time for smarter water infrastructure investments is now."

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.