Plumbers Tackle America’s Drinking Water Crisis

Replacing lead water pipes with copper piping between the street and homes in Flint, Michigan October 28, 2016. (John M. Galloway)
25 Apr 2017

Behind walls and buried underground is the intricate artwork of plumbing professionals. Their work often goes unnoticed, but with the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure, plumbers play a crucial role in ensuring clean, safe drinking water.

FAV-KellenCDA008Nearly 2,000 water systems across the country contain lead. However, the lack of real inventories could mean that this estimate is conservative. Residents of these contaminated cities have been forced to use bottled water for bathing, cooking and drinking. The only way to truly solve the looming drinking water crisis is to remove and replace underground lead service lines.

On the front lines of these material replacement projects are plumbers, an occupation expected to grow 12 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These men and women quite possibly hold more lives in their hands than doctors. Besides fixing annoying leaks, plumbers and pipefitters are responsible for providing clean drinking water for future generations.

Mayor Karen Weaver recently announced that the city of Flint, the center of the nation’s drinking water crisis, will be replacing its lead service lines with copper.FAV-KellenCDA059

“Copper piping is the best material to use for the service lines because it’s long lasting and impermeable, so contaminants can’t get into our drinking water,” she said at the Flint Water Infrastructure Summit in March.

Additionally, copper’s workability can cut installation time and reduce labor cost, since copper tubes and fitting are easily joined through multiple methods to meet all system and jobsite needs and challenges.

Plumbing professionals are critical in the success of Flint’s lead replacement project and future lead service line replacement projects throughout the country.

The next time you take a shower, cook dinner or fill up a glass of water, remember whose unnoticed handiwork is responsible for ensuring the safety of your drinking water.

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