Addressing Misconceptions About America’s Water System

Clean water is a necessity for American homes and businesses. Consumers take it for granted that a twist of the tap will result in a stream of safe, drinkable water. However, misconceptions about water resources abound, and water sector professionals must be diligent in sharing accurate information. Clearing up misunderstandings will make it easier to get local governments, consumers, and water utilities on the same page for future priorities.

Misjudging the Size of Water Infrastructure

A lack of visibility is one of the challenges to accurate water infrastructure information. Pipes travel for miles underground to distribute water to consumers. Almost half the population believes there are one million miles of pipes or less. However, it takes around 2.2 million miles of various sizes to make up this critical infrastructure. Once consumers understand the scope of the system, they will have a better sense of its complexities.

Lack of Knowledge About Aging Water Infrastructure

Most consumers are unaware of pipe problems until they experience a service interruption or boil-water advisory. Such events are becoming more common as the system ages. Experts estimate that a water main breaks in the country every minute.

Water system pipes last longer than most people realize, sometimes as long as a century. This durability means that they may not receive regular maintenance. It is also long enough that many people have no concept of the age of their local pipes. Old water systems built in the early 1900s are now overdue for improvement and replacement.

Ignorance of Water Infrastructure Maintenance Needs

General ignorance about water systems means that consumers do not realize the care such infrastructure requires. The water industry estimates that a complete overhaul of the current system will cost around $129 billion. 

Most water systems only receive enough income to handle basic tasks to prevent disruptions. The water sector must make efforts to help consumers understand the need for improvement rather than maintenance in the coming years.

Other Threats to Our Water System

Several other emerging threats to our water system demand attention. Engineers did not design old water systems to handle current concerns. Consumers must also understand that keeping the water supply safe will require more than replacing pipes.

The Threat of Cyber Attacks

In the past, water systems were self-contained, keeping them safe from online attacks. Web-connected utilities face the same cybersecurity threats as other industries. Insufficient funding and piecemeal improvements may also leave them vulnerable to criminals who exploit weaknesses in legacy software.

Supply Chain Vulnerability

Water treatment requires a steady stream of chemicals for tasks like pH balancing and purification. Repair crews need replacement pipes on hand in case of emergencies. Delays in the supply chain can result in unsafe water or long disruptions.

Climate Issues

The changing climate brings new challenges to the water industry. Arid regions are going through extended periods of drought, and coastal areas must deal with saltwater intrusion due to rising sea levels. Maintaining a reliable water supply will require new technology and high-efficiency facilities.

Improper Consumer Activity

Residents flushing improper materials is nothing new, but consumer awareness will become much more important due to aging water infrastructure. Fats and oils combined with wipes and other materials block sewer mains and put stress on old pipes.

Benefits of Updating Americas Water System with SCADA

As water utilities upgrade their systems, adding SCADA technology is a way to improve efficiency and prevent problems. Sensor-driven technology brings several benefits.

Proactive Maintenance

Sensors in a SCADA array can detect minor changes in performance before they cause a disruption. Maintenance crews can move from a reactive to a proactive approach to repair by replacing infrastructure before it breaks down.

Improved Cybersecurity

Water facilities must always employ basic cybersecurity measures, but a cloud-based SCADA system will also help keep data safe. In this model, local servers do not store critical information. Instead, data remains safely behind the advanced security measures of cloud-based servers.

Long-Term Cost Benefits

Employing SCADA technology increases efficiency, reducing operating costs over time. A streamlined operation will have more funds to invest in improvements.

A Partner for Water Sector SCADA

High Tide Technologies specializes in designing and implementing SCADA systems for the water sector. Water collection, distribution, and treatment systems can all benefit from our technological resources. Our cloud-based model allows staff members to access real-time operational data from any location. Contact us today to learn more about how HTT can help your water system address current needs and prepare for the future.