AUSTIN — A KVUE Defenders investigation uncovers the city of Austin loses more than three billion gallons of water a year due to leaky or broken pipes. It’s happening during one of the worst droughts in Texas’ history too.
Austin Sierra Club’s Jennifer Walker says that’s a big deal. “When we’re in a drought, and we’re asking people to conserve water and do their part, it sends a really bad message to have water flowing down the street,” Walker explained.
To put three billions in perspective, that’s enough water to fill all of Lady Bird Lake downtown Austin, with millions of gallons left over.
“We have to make sure we use every drop wisely, from personally conserving water, to making sure our systems are tight,” said Walker.
Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report card on America’s infrastructure.
It gave water infrastructure a “D” grade. In the report, it explained that some “water pipes date back to the civil war era and often are not examined until there is a problem or a water main break.”
Austin Water Spokesperson Jason Hill agrees the grade fits the state of Austin’s infrastructure. He says hundreds of miles of pipes under the city need replacement. Some of them were built in the 1920s.
For example, a pipe left underground that long can build up just like the arteries in your body. Instead of plaque clogging up a blood vessel, calcium and limestone can clog pipes.