The top worry among water experts is rusty pipes, a fact that is in the news today, possibly to the benefit of plastic pipe extruders. The Reuters news service today has a story headlined "Biggest threat to U.S drinking water? Rust." The story points out that U.S. municipalities spend more than $50 billion each year cleaning water to make it safe and drinkable, then end up distributing it through a system of leaky, corroding iron pipe laid under city streets 50-100 years ago.
"If you clean up water and then put it into a dirty pipe, there's not much point," said Timothy Ford, a microbiologist and water research scientist with Montana State University. "I consider the distribution system to be the highest risk and the greatest problem we are going to be facing in the future," Ford said.The story also quotes a National Research Council report, prepared for the Environmental Protection Agency, that concluded: "Investigations conducted in the last five years suggest that a substantial proportion of waterborne disease outbreaks, both microbial and chemical, is attributable to problems within distribution systems." Plastics News has editorialized on this problem, too, pointing out that nearly 6 billion gallons of water is lost every day from corroded or damaged pipe in the United States -- an incredible waste of money and resources that taxpayers don't know about. Plastic pipe makers can benefit from the attention to the problem. It's noteworthy that readers of the Yahoo news pages today currently have the "Rust" story on their Top 10 list of "most recommended" news stories.