Parts of the northeast were hit with one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record this year, and in Central New York, it’s taken a serious toll on the water infrastructure — so much so that many residents had to resort to using melted snow to flush toilets.
It’s been so tough on pipes that some residents in Syracuse went without water for almost two weeks. A March 9th story from the Syracuse Media Group said that even as temperatures climbed into the 40s, many water pipes remained frozen solid. In some cases, after service was restored, residents were asked to leave the taps running until April to prevent lines from re-freezing. An earlier Syracuse Media Group story said that “From Ithaca to Watertown and beyond, frost [had] extended as much as six feet deep — twice the normal depth — causing water lines to freeze.”
An aging infrastructure system there isn’t helping. An editorial in The Daily Orange estimated the cost to repair Syracuse’s water lines at $726 million — and that was before the wear and tear from this winter. “Syracuse has more than 550 miles of water pipes; some of those are more than 100 years old,” it stated. The city is seeking money from the state to help with the repairs, but so far has been refused.
In 2012 we wrote about the need to replace water and sewer infrastructure across the nation, and the problems in Syracuse just drive home the point that sooner or later, our country’s crumbling lines are going to start failing.
While many of us may be happy to see this year’s winter disappear down the toilet, having to resort to using melted snow to make that happen isn’t quite what we had in mind.