Water System Infrastructure Shows Its Age In Arizona

July 17, 2014

After more than 50 years of use, much of Phoenix’s water system infrastructure is showing signs of age. That trend mirrors statewide water system needs.

The city of Phoenix saw five water main breaks on Wednesday and officials say old infrastructure is the problem.

"So most infrastructure that’s in the ground or in the plants has about a 50-year lifespan or so," said Troy Hayes, the city's assistant water services director. "With those we’re coming to timeframe where most of the infrastructure that we have is coming to the end of its useful life."

Hayes acknowledged that five breaks in a week is unusual, but said the city is aware of the problem and is actively working to replace its aging system. Those needs mirror state and national infrastructure deficiencies.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated Arizona may need to invest more than $7 billion in drinking water infrastructure in the next 20 years.  

"Water being in the west is an issue for everyone pretty much," said Randy Over, the organization's president. "So that’s a looming issue. It’s not only a supply issue. It’s potentially a climate impact on the state."  

Over said roadway infrastructure needs in Arizona are also high. His organization estimates about half of the state’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition. The national average sits right around one third.