Water infrastructure 'will be out of life' within a decade: American Water president

Water is an essential natural resource needed for life. But American Water, the largest investor-owned water-and-waste utility company in the United States, says almost half of the water infrastructure in the U.S. is at risk.

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“Forty-four percent of all U.S. water infrastructure is near the end of life or failing,” said Susan Story, the company’s president, on FOX Business’ “Mornings with Maria” on Wednesday. “And within the next 10 years will be out of life.”

During an investor day presentation, American Water said that they would invest $7.3 billion over the next five years in states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the states with the company’s biggest regulated utility operations. Story said they are essentially replacing old pipes.

“In the United States we lose $2 trillion gallons of treated water every year -- over 20 percent that we have treated, put in pipes and it just leaks,” she said. “We’ve got to find a way to save that water, reduce costs and also you do that by replacing infrastructure with smarter infrastructure.”

Story added that part of the big infrastructure investment includes “resiliency of our assets,” for climate change. For example, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania there have been a number of events over the last several years that exceeded the “100-year flood” or a flood that statistically has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. Tropical Storm Irene, which slammed New Jersey in 2011, nearly took out treatment facilities.

“We are spending about 8 percent of that capital… on resiliency projects to address issues of the changing climate,” she said, adding that American Water doesn’t “get into the debate” over why the climate is changing, and is mainly concerned on using data to determine what they need to build their assets forward.

Americans consume 322 billion gallons of water a day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.