There are approximately 1.6 million miles of aging sewer and water pipes in the continental United States of America. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates water and sewer investment needs will be $18.5 billion over the next 20 years in Missouri alone. Many sewer and water pipes have been in the ground for nearly a century or more and are reaching the end of their useful life.
In many communities, the average age of water and sewer pipes is set to hit more than 60 years old in 2020. Depending on what part of Saint Louis you live in your water and sewer pipes may have been installed close to 100 years ago. When the pipes were installed the designers did not have to withstand the modern products and their demand on the system. Products such as “flushable wipes” and the number of paper products going through our aging sewer system are cause for much concern.
In 2017, The American Society of Civil Engineers graded the state of the nation’s infrastructure a D+ and estimated that the need for improvements over the next 25 years could reach $1 trillion dollars.
The planned replacement of your sewer and drain pipes is more cost-effective and convenient than fixing emergency breaks, which can cause unexpected service disruptions and emergency situations such as flooded basements.
When thinking of ways you can protect your pipes, you should consider what you and your family are flushing down your toilet and rinsing down your sink. Throw those “flushable” wipes in the trash, along with your “disposable” contacts, hair, feminine hygiene products, Q-tips, fat, and grease or any sticky substances.
Finally, have a conversation with your family members about what goes down the sink and toilet vs using the trash can. Following these simple tips can help keep your sewers flowing now, and for years to come.