"Liquid Assets Minnesota" Documentary Explores Concerns About Minnesota's Aging Water Infrastructure
Originally broadcast in 2011, this program is still relevant, detailing how many of Minnesota’s drinking water systems, sanitary sewers and storm sewers throughout the state are rapidly approaching the end of their useful life. The rural cities of Brandon, Hoffman, and Battle Lake are featured, in addition to the city of Duluth and communities within the Twin Cities area, to demonstrate how each of them are grappling with the task of maintaining a high quality standard of water in this time of tight budgets. Co-produced by tpt’s Minnesota Channel and Central States Water Environment Association-Minnesota Section.
From Robbinsdale to Minneapolis, and really all over the country, our pipes are bursting.
With those breaks come the short-term pains. Alex Griep lost water after a water main break in Minneapolis in January of 2013. "You can't wash your hands, you can't go to the bathroom, you can't do anything with water," he said at the time.
However, the inconvenience may pale in comparison to what lies ahead.
"I think it's inevitable there will be more and more," former St. Paul Public Works Director Tom Eggum explained Sunday. Eggum is also part of MN2050, which aims to educate the public on infrastructure needs.
"If they don't pay the price," Eggum said of the general public, "their kids or grandkids will, and that's not much of a legacy to leave."
The price is steep and getting steeper.
Eggum says many of Minnesota's pipes are about 80 years old, which is how long they're supposed to last. It's why we've seen so many fail lately.
According to a report put together for the American Public Work Association's Minnesota Chapter, the Midwest will spend more than $240 million replacing pipes by the year 2050.
"The longer you wait, the more expensive it gets," Eggum said. "And we don't like to predict the sky is falling, but there could be a crisis at some point."
That is unless taxes and utility fees are raised and get to work immediately. The problem is that is not popular politically, at least not yet. It may be if the pipes keep bursting.