It took driving on potholed roads for years to awaken Michigan residents to the need for infrastructure investment that was visible to the eye. The same message about infrastructure we can’t see has gone unheeded for years, despite Flint and Fraser.
Perhaps with the latest failure in Farmington Hills, the message will get through about water mains, pipes and valves that have been quietly aging and deteriorating.
Several years ago, American Water Works Association launched a campaign called “Buried No Longer,” to emphasize the urgent need for reinvestment in outdated community water systems, many of which have outlived their lifespan of 50 to 100 years.
Like roads and bridges, water systems need regular maintenance, upgrades and, sometimes, rebuilds in order to keep them in good working condition. As local municipalities struggle to fund so many pressing needs, the ones that are buried may be easiest to set aside for another year. Forgoing infrastructure maintenance in favor of more politically popular budget items is a dangerous practice that is bound to eventually have consequences.