In Duluth, to get an up-close look at the city’s aging water infrastructure, just drive down 4th Street in front of Whole Foods Co-op. You’ll be detoured around a huge crater in the street, where the city is replacing a collapsing manhole.
Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Co-op
The city of Duluth maintains hundreds of miles of underground water pipes and tunnels, dating back to the early 1900s. City utilities workers repair over 100 water main breaks a year. Last December Duluth was highlighted in a documentary called Liquid Assets Minnesota, which highlighted the pressures on an aging infrastructure. When the film was released, Duluth Mayor Don Ness said that “as a nation, we have neglected our water system and we’re paying the price in the form of very expensive water main leaks and breaks.”
Now Ness, along with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other leaders across the country, has signed on to an open letter urging the Obama Administration and Congress to reinvest in public water systems.
The letter highlights the findings of a new report called Public Water Works! by the group Corporate Accountability International. According to the report, U.S. public water systems face a $23 billion per year investment gap.