According to WCPO on July 1st:
A massive problem is growing out of sight in Greater Cincinnati that’s draining government coffers, squeezing family budgets and threatens the future of a system we can’t live without.
Hidden beneath our homes, schools and businesses are thousands of miles of aging and crumbling water mains – some of which are so old they’re made out of wood.
In a system that stretches from Northern Kentucky to Mason, breaks and leaks happen often and unexpectedly – ripping open roads, closing down busy intersections and flooding homes and businesses.
And all of those busted pipes and water mains mean your water bill is going to keep climbing higher.
In the last 10 years, Greater Cincinnati Water Works has spent more than $75 million just to fix and repair nearly 18,000 water main leaks and breaks, a WCPO analysis of records shows.
“It’s not until the system breaks that people really see the problem,” said Tony Parrott, executive director of Greater Cincinnati Water Works. which provides services to more than 1 million consumers across more than 50 communities including Cincinnati.
The pricey patchwork is on top of another $40 million spent annually to replace at least 1 percent of the system’s worst pipes – the average age of which was 102 years in 2014.
In spite of the millions of dollars spent and continued rate increases, the city is “falling further behind” every year, said Parrott.
It’s estimated it will take at least $250 million over 10 years to catch up replacing the oldest pipes and get the system in good working condition.
If revenue from water bills alone were used to pay for the work – rate payers would face annual increases of at least 10 percent or likely more for years to come, say Parrott.
Water officials say they’re exploring other ways to raise money, but caution that there is no quick fix in sight.
“We’re at major crossroads with our water infrastructure,” he said. “The need is critical, and it’s only going to get worse.”