Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Love that dirty water: Time to invest in infrastructure

The other day I was talking to someone who works for an advocacy group dedicated to ramping up infrastructure investment. He said that the major reason efforts have been slow so far is because infrastructure just isn't "sexy."

Well there's not much less sexy than untreated pond water coming out of your faucet. Amazingly, thanks to a catastrophically burst water line, that's the situation 2 million Bostonians find themselves in:

Nearly 2 million residents of Greater Boston lost their supply of clean drinking water when a huge pipe abruptly burst yesterday, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency and to impose a sweeping order for homeowners and businesses to boil the untreated water now flowing from their taps.

Governor Deval Patrick said residents in Boston and 29 other communities east of Weston should boil water for at least a minute before drinking it to avoid the risk of getting sick. He also asked bottled water companies and the National Guard to help make clean water available to residents in the affected communities.

The crisis began around 10 a.m. [Saturday] when a 10-foot-wide pipe in Weston sprang a leak, which worsened throughout the afternoon and eventually cut off Greater Boston from the Quabbin Reservoir, where most of its water supply is stored.

Maybe this will bring some public attention to America's infrastructure crisis.

The other interesting angle on this story is from a friend of mine in the area:

What amazes me is that people are fighting each other for bottled water and waiting in 2 mile car lines for 3+ hours to get water, when you can just boil a few gallons in about 10 mins and be all set for a couple of days. I shudder at the thought of how people would behave in an actual emergency.

Score one for the bottled water marketers.

Of course the real crisis is that Dunkin Donuts was unable to serve coffee. Panic!

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