Local and state officials across the country say thousands of miles of century-old underground water and sewer lines are springing leaks, eroding and — in extreme cases — causing the ground above them to collapse. Though there is no master tally of sinkholes, there is consensus among civil engineers and water experts that things are getting worse.
The Environmental Protection Agency has projected that unless cities invest more to repair and replace their water and sewer systems, nearly half of the water system pipes in the United States will be in poor, very poor or “life elapsed” status by 2020.
Yes, sewers are unsexy, there’s no new fancy science involved. But water and sewer systems are the very basis of public health, and the biggest reason why Americans don’t die of sleeping sickness and dengue fever (or their subtropical equivalents) in large numbers evey year. People who want to cut taxes and limit government need to keep this in mind. There’s no money to be made out of building and maintaining sewers, it’s a dirty job and government has to do it, or else nobody will, and money is required. We produce the waste, we need to be taxed appropriately for it. It’s that simple.