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Overhauling America’s aging water infrastructure

By The Fulcrum Team
December 11, 2023

Water touches every aspect of modern life. Obviously, drinking water is vital, but we also need plentiful water for agriculture. The manufacturing and technology sectors use water for cooling purposes, as does power generation. In fact, America uses more water than almost every other nation on earth. However, the infrastructure that provides, cleans, and delivers that water is crumbling.

A large country needs equally robust infrastructure. It takes 2.2 million miles of pipes to provide drinking water across the country. Owing to decades of cost cutting and underfunding, those pipes are in poor shape. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), water main breaks lose 6 billion gallons of water every day.

America’s water pipe network, installed last century, wasn’t meant to last more than 75 years. Aging and neglected, water infrastructure is at a critical juncture. With deteriorating pipes, treatment plants, and distribution networks, the need for renewal and innovation has never been more pressing.

Public-private collaboration

The water infrastructure system is a complicated network of public and private actors. These interconnected stakeholders have spent years pushing for funding to not only repair but also modernize aging water infrastructure. The recent massive investment in the form of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill will allow for innovative and sustainable new water system solutions.

With severe weather events on the rise, and decades of neglect to ameliorate, America’s aging water infrastructure needs a radical overhaul. A complete transformation is needed to ensure future generations have access to clean, reliable water supply. That transformation will replace outdated pipes with advanced pumping mechanisms, while also integrating modern data collection and monitoring technologies.

Prioritizing advanced data collection technologies will enhance the operational efficiency of water infrastructure maintenance. Real time data collection and analysis supports informed decision-making and will ensure a more sustainable water supply network.

Water infrastructure as image about overhauling America's aging water infrastructure

New technology solutions

In 2020, the average age of water pipes was 45 years. But the population has grown by almost 125 million since 1975. And while water demand has grown accordingly, the aging water infrastructure network has not. Severe weather events have also increased in frequency. In 2023, the U.S. saw a record number of weather disasters. Droughts, floods, heatwaves, and storms all put significant strain on the already compromised water infrastructure.

Luckily, technological adaptations have grown concurrently with populations and weather events. Revolutionary new technology solutions will simplify the overhaul of America’s aging water infrastructure. Some examples include:

  • Energy-efficient pumps and motors to replace outdated models.
  • Smart sensors can not only collect and record predetermined values but also analyze and process the results.
  • Remote monitoring capability to free up time and resources.
  • Advanced leak detection systems can catch trouble spots earlier.
  • Predictive analytics is a field that uses past data to anticipate where future problems might occur.

These tools and strategies are pivotal when it comes to maintaining the crucial water infrastructure network. They all depend on timely and accurate data collection.

Data collection done right

Replacing the aging water infrastructure network means countless components to inspect and upgrade. Flexible and customizable, Fulcrum’s easy-to-use platform means data collection is accurate and reliable. Geographic information systems (GIS) enable crews to analyze geospatial information in real time. With GIS, maintenance teams can not only coordinate their efforts and operations but also build and share interactive models.

With so many stakeholders involved in water infrastructure management, the ability to freely communicate between parties will be invaluable. Fulcrum’s agnostic platform allows for seamless integration with Esri ArcGIS, email, SMS, as well as other programs and applications. Field teams must be instantly able to connect between contractors, offices, and teams. The future of water infrastructure depends on it.

Water for everyone

America uses 39 billion gallons of water every day, all of which comes through its aging water infrastructure. After decades of neglect, the federal government has made substantial investments to improve and replace the existing components and networks. Overhauling the entire system won’t be easy, but it can be simplified by current technological tools.

Fulcrum’s agnostic and unbiased platform can be instrumental in this massive undertaking. Customizable data collection coupled with seamless integration and coordination between organizations makes Fulcrum a valuable partner in the restoration of America’s aging water infrastructure.

Curious about your elevating water utility inspections?

Discover how client TREKK Design Group transformed water utility data collection processes using Fulcrum’s field inspection platform, GIS, and 3D imaging. Explore the case study for practical insights, or connect directly with a Fulcrum expert to tailor solutions for your utility infrastructure needs today!