Water mains provide opportunity to engineer sustainability upgrades

Water mains provide opportunity to engineer sustainability upgrades

The average person uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water a day.

Imagine trying to find room for 80 to 100 gallon jugs of milk in your refrigerator.

So when running water stops or is compromised because of a water main break, it can result in a major problem.

With aging infrastructure, we encounter these problems on a regular basis. There are 240,000 water main breaks every year in the U.S., according to White House estimates. Southwest Florida is no stranger to them. A break in Port Charlotte shot water into the air like a cannon on a chilly January day. Another break forced the shutdown of Pine Ridge Road between U.S. 41 and Goodlette-Frank Road — one of the busiest stretches in Collier County —two days before Christmas. Some 20 water mains broke over the span of a few January days in Tampa, closing several streets and intersections.

Some breaks are unavoidable, but widespread issues represent a failure to create a sustainable system. The Environmental Protection Agency put together a guidebook for owners, managers and operators of public water systems, local officials, technical assistance providers, and state personnel that lays out best practices for managing those systems. The guidebook encourages managers to analyze consumer demand and satisfaction and to understand current and future regulatory requirements — two avenues in which the public can influence water policy. There has been much discussion at the federal level to focus on infrastructural improvements as a goal for the next decade, and the fact that there is plenty of data highlighting the number of public utility breakdowns suggests water managers will soon have to meet higher standards and a new set of demands.

That’s why taking steps now to foster the sustainability of water systems is so vital. EnSite can help planners design and implement changes that are built to last and keep the water flowing long into the future. From drivers to builders to anyone who turns on a faucet, we all have a stake in creating a water system that works. Call us at 239-226-0024 to learn more about how our civil engineering services make an impact on our region.

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