When an old bridge collapses or a roadway buckles, residents can immediately see that repairs need to be made. But when water pipes burst or start to decay underground, residents don't always notice that there is an issue.
That's why New Jersey American Water is taking the initiative to inform residents about the state's aging water infrastructure.
"But when you're walking down the street, do you think about what is underneath your feet? The water infrastructure that is there? Probably not – because most people can't see it. If it is out of sight, it is out of mind. So we are trying to raise awareness about this aging infrastructure and the need to replace and repair it," said Richard Barnes, External Affairs Manager at New Jersey American Water.
Officials constructed a sand sculpture of a water main break because almost every two minutes, somewhere in America, a water main breaks – and of the New Jersey American Water's nearly 9,000 miles of pipeline, 15% of that pipe is nearly a century old. And they say that is a concern that residents in South Jersey should be aware of.
"The infrastructure has to be maintained – it has to be replaced. You just can't have pipe that was put in the ground a hundred years ago, and by the way, there are some in the ground that are doing alright, but most of that is frankly reaching the end of its problem free life," explained Peter Eschbac, Director of Communications for New Jersey American Water.
As beach goers came to take pictures in and around the sculpture, officials explained how a 30 cent surcharge on their water bill, is now going towards system maintenance and faster repairs to some of the water pipes.
Most residents we spoke with said they were glad to be informed and that they don't mind the small addition to their monthly bill.
Darren DeRosa, a seasonal resident in New Jersey, told NBC40, "It's very concerning, and again, it's probably something that I haven't really thought about and it's probably something I should be thinking about. It’s something that my wife and daughter and I will be thinking about going forward."
New Jersey resident, Cindy Wasdick, added, "I don't have a problem. And if it's that little bit and it's going to help – I guess it's worthwhile."
New Jersey American Water officials say they have already begun repairs on the underground water infrastructure and that they will be investing 100 million dollars in local projects this year alone.
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