More Than 20 Percent of State’s Drinking Water Never Makes It to the Tap

January 9, 2015 | Energy & Environment

By Tom Johnson for NJ Spotlight

Every day, billions of gallons of drinking water are lost due to leaking, aging infrastructure, a national problem resulting in $2.8 billion in lost revenue annually, as well as higher costs to consumers, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

It’s a familiar problem in New Jersey: Between 20 percent and 22 percent of the state’s drinking water is lost long before it reaches consumers, according to a 2013 study by Facing Our Future, a blue-ribbon, bipartisan panel of former cabinet members and senior government executives.

The crux of the issue is that the water infrastructure in states like New Jersey can be up to 100 years old. Replacing those decrepit water mains is not cheap, however. One projection says the upgrade would cost almost $8 billion in New Jersey.

To the NRDC, states like New Jersey, can more readily address these problems by adopting a more sensible water policy that establishes best practices for estimating, locating, and reducing water leaks.

“It’s a tool that helps identify where you can make the smartest investments,’’ said Larry Levine, a senior water policy for the NRDC. The environmental organization yesterday launched a new website, Cutting Our Losses: State Policies to Track and Reduce Leakage from Public Water Systems.

The NRDC said that New Jersey is not effectively monitoring losses from water leakage.

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