An article on Storeys presents the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) study published in June 2021.
It says that Toronto and other municipalities across Ontario are wasting over a hundred million liters of drinking water a day due to its aging, leaky, and broken water pipes.
According to the RCCAO report, leaking is just the tip of the enormous water infrastructure problem due to aging. The report estimates a leakage rate of at least 10%, but actual assessments by consultants show that the rate could be as high as 40%.
In Toronto city alone, a leakage rate of 10 to 15% means that 103 million liters of drinking water go to waste, an equivalent of supplying 250,000 people with water per day or filling 15 thousand Olympic-sized swimming pools each year.
RCCAO executive director Nadia Todorova says that “The findings of this study are alarming because they confirm that our water infrastructure is aging and in dire need of repair,” adding that “Governments must provide sustained funding to fix and replace these critical infrastructure assets. It’s incredibly inefficient and almost singlehandedly defeating our water conservation goals when treated drinking water never makes it to the taps because of leaky pipes.”
Fixing aging water infrastructure brings multiple benefits
The study finds that fixing leaking water pipes can save money, electricity and prevent carbon emissions.
For instance, fixing the water mains in a single section in the York region could save 139 thousand cubic meters of water per year, 102 megawatt-hours in energy enough to power 11 homes in a year, prevent 4.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and a saving of $426 thousand annually.
Aging Infrastructure is a serious problem that can get much worse if ignored
According to an RCCA report, a 2018 survey of 308 water utilities in North America shows that the average service life of a water main is 50 years.
What is alarming is that 28% of them are aged over 50 years. In Toronto, 16% of more than its 6 thousand kilometers of water mains are aged between 80 to 100, and 11% are more than 100 years old.
Aging water mains causes 1400 pipe to bursts annually. Each year the city replaces up to 50 km of pipes.
Recommendations from the study
The Intrado article summarises the recommendations from the study as follows.
- Ontario should stay the course and continue to provide funds for asset management (AM) projects.
- Stable funding should be allocated to support an extended asset-energy-carbon analysis that will define the return-on-investment beyond the financial aspects of AM projects.
- Money be provided for municipalities to adopt best practices, lead innovation, and develop accountable plans for investment and performance optimization.
PHOTO CREDIT: Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6374501. The photo has been cropped to fit the website’s requirements.