About Bad Water

February 3rd, 2009

The United States has pretty good tap water, but our pipes are in trouble, with more than 250,000 water main breaks a year nationwide. When pipes lose pressure, they’re vulnerable to bacterial (and other) contamination. Utility customers are told to boil their water (read this for information on disinfecting water), but most just buy it in bottles. (Yes, it’s useful in emergencies.) Another trigger for boil-water alerts is large storms, which can rush sediment into water sources. The particulate matter interferes with disinfection, bacteria survive, and boil-water notices go out until the situation is under control.

I’m not trying to steer you toward bottled water (boiling is cheaper, and easier on the environment), but we need to be honest about our infrastructure problems. It’s the only way we’ll persuade our elected and appointed officials to fix them.

(The events listed below took place on the day, or the day before, they were announced in the media. Their presence on this list doesn’t imply problems are ongoing.)

working on a water main break


St. Albans, West Virginia

April 28th, 2009

Water main break, per WSAZ.

States, West Virginia

Martin County, Kentucky

April 25th, 2009

The entire water district is under a boil water alert after a break in a 16-inch pipe per WKYT.

Kentucky, States

Camden, New York

April 25th, 2009

A malfunction at the water treatment plant, per WKTV news.

New York, States

Why We Need Local Newspapers

April 24th, 2009

To learn about boil-water alerts, says author and blogger Mary Carledgehayes. I couldn’t have put it better myself (though we also need all other media to send out instant alerts too).


Madison Township, MI

April 24th, 2009

Construction crews hit a water main; pressure drops. Boil. (Per the Daily Telegram)

Michigan, States

Harris County, Texas

April 24th, 2009

Parts of the county are on boil-water alert after a construction worker bored through a forty-eight-inch water line, per KHOU.com.

States, Texas

Jefferson County, Kentucky

April 24th, 2009

Drop in water pressure caused by utility workers “doing maintenance in the area,” says the Courier Journal.

Kentucky, States

Gilman, Iowa

April 24th, 2009

Leaky valve; boil, per the Times Republican.


Lewis County, Washington

April 24th, 2009

Broken water main affects 350 customers, per the Daily News Online.

States, Washington