The Latest US Cities Facing Water Issues

May 12, 2023
 by Seven Seas News Team

The federal Bureau of Reclamation is considering three plans to allocate Colorado River water, but none of them is likely to please stakeholders.

Water partnerships can help municipalities update failing infrastructure

Many cities in the United States lack the resources to upgrade their water infrastructure or even effectively maintain what they already have. This has been leading more and more to water crises that can impact the health and well-being of their citizens. Some of the cities facing serious water crises include Jackson, Mississippi; Baltimore, Maryland; Houston, Texas; and, Flint, Michigan.

Let’s examine some of these challenges, as well as potential solutions.

Ongoing Water Crisis in Jackson

Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, have been grappling with water crisis after water crisis due to aging water infrastructure, the latest arising from damage to O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. This damage not only left the city’s water supply contaminated, but also depleted. It has been reported that the city has suffered more than 7,300 water line breaks over the past four years, with the largest pipe break resulting in the loss of 5 million gallons of drinking water per day.

Extreme weather, poor infrastructure, and lack of investment in maintenance and upgrades have all contributed to the Jackson water crisis, causing low water pressure and contamination with bacteria and lead. While efforts are finally being made to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure, residents are concerned that the city lacks qualified staff to run the plant efficiently.

E. coli Contamination in Baltimore

In September 2022, Baltimore, Maryland, joined the list of major cities plagued with contaminated drinking water after E. coli, — a bacterium that can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting — was detected in water samples collected from multiple locations across the city. The outbreak forced officials to issue a boil water order that affected residents while the system was flushed and checked for faulty valves and leaks, and chlorination treatment was increased to control the contamination.

Boil Water Orders in Houston

Residents of Houston, Texas, are no stranger to boil water orders, having received three in recent years. The first of these was issued in February 2020 after a break in a water main led to a major leak. The leak, which lasted several hours, caused water pressure levels to drop below the minimum safety requirement of 20 psi over an extended period. Then in 2021, residents received a boil water notice during the winter freeze, which caused the state’s electric grid to collapse, leaving millions without access to power or water for days. In the most recent incident, which occurred in November 2022, millions of residents had to boil tap water after a power outage at a water treatment plant in the city.

Lead Contamination in Flint, Michigan

Flint’s water woes began in 2014 when the cash strapped city switched its drinking water supply from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. Residents began complaining that their water was discolored, had a foul taste and smell, and was causing health issues such as skin rashes, itchy skin, and hair loss. Flint water officials failed to treat the highly corrosive river water, which ultimately led to more serious health issues. The corrosive water caused lead to leach from aging water pipes supplying homes across the city with drinking water. Water samples collected from homes citywide later revealed that lead levels had spiked to above levels deemed safe in drinking water.

More alarmingly, a 2016 report published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the number of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had almost doubled since the switch in 2014, and in some neighborhoods had almost tripled, after nearly 9,000 children under the age of 6 were exposed to lead contaminated drinking water for 18 months. Lead is considered harmful even at low levels, but its impacts are particularly damaging to developing nervous systems and brains of young children and fetuses.

Upgrading Water Infrastructure With Water-as-a-Service®

All of these cases have deteriorating infrastructure in common. This often is due to lack of resources. This can be overcome by partnering with water treatment experts who can take over water and wastewater treatment infrastructure, from construction to operations and maintenance.

With Seven Seas Water Group’s Water-as-a-Service® model, municipalities can get the water infrastructure they need with no upfront capital required and no monthly operating costs; they just pay for the water they use. Seven Seas will build, or acquire and upgrade existing infrastructure, and manage the plant on your behalf, ensuring consumers have a reliable supply of safe drinking water.

Seven Seas specializes in the use of decentralized treatment solutions, which use smaller plants close to sources of demand. Decentralization eliminates some of the need for long distribution pipelines, which have proved to be an Achilles’ heel of water systems with aging infrastructure.

Contact Seven Seas to learn more about our Water-as-a-Service® partnerships and how we can help you ensure the communities you serve have access to a continuous supply of safe drinking water.

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