Today's question: If leaks are such a waste of water, why can't the water utility just fix all of them?
“Plain Talk” answer: Most pipes in a municipal water distribution system were laid before many of us were born are failing at different rates, depending on the type of pipe, ground conditions, usage and other factors. Current generations have not had to pay huge amounts to repair and replace these pipes as they age and fail. To repair the miles of aging pipes is a massive job, not to mention the cost. In fact, much of the drinking water infrastructure in the United States does need to be replaced in the next three decades. The real issue is how utilities are going to pay for all this repair and replacement.
The cost estimates to replace all the old pipes in the United States range from $280 billion to $400 billion. The federal and state governments offer some relief to utilities to offset the cost of repairs, generally in the form of low-interest loans, but in the end, water rates will have to rise to pay for repairing and replacing current water infrastructure.
For more information on this and many other water-related topics, check out "Plain Talk About Drinking Water" by Dr. James M. Symons.