Record Heat Causes Nation’s Water Pipes to ‘Burst Like Geysers’

How hot has it been?  The first 9 days of August saw “Heat Records Outnumbering Cold Records by Amazing 24 to 1,” CapitalClimate reported.

This year’s record heat has spawned cow-killing algae, caused sidewalks to explode, and turned reservoirs blood-red. Now it’s causing an even costlier problem for communities in the U.S. – exploding water pipes.

As severe heat dries out the ground, old pipes shift around and are more susceptible to breaking. The problem is exacerbated by an increased demand for water during hot days. Towns across the U.S. are seeing increased rates of water pipe failures; Oklahoma saw 685 water main breaks since July – about four times the normal rate.

Kemp, Texas was the most recent victim. Last Wednesday, town officials were forced to shut off water supplies for the 1,110 residents after 14 water pipes burst:

Kemp Mayor Donald Kile says the old infrastructure has a lot to do with the problem. The local water treatment plant was last replaced 40 years ago, and a lot of the town’s 30 miles of pipelines were installed in the 1930s and haven’t been updated in years.
“It’s sad to say, but it’s poor planning,” said Kile, who was elected mayor recently. “When they put that water treatment plant in, they should have implemented something then….  It just wasn’t ever done.”

With virtually no updates to its water infrastructure in 40 years, Kemp is facing a serious water-reliability crisis. And the town is representative of the rest of the country: the Environmental protection agency says that about 700 water main ruptures take place in the U.S. daily because of aging pipelines. The EPA estimates the U.S. will need to invest in over $334 billion in water infrastructure over the next 25 years.

Climate change will make the problem far worse.

All across Texas this summer, water mains have exploded, causing flooding, damage to homes, and increasing future costs to taxpayers and utility customers. And as heat waves get more intense and put greater stress on water infrastructure around the country, those costs could increase substantially for towns like Kemp.

Kemp, however, is represented by Texas Governor (and now-presidential candidate) Rick Perry and Congressman Jeb Hensarling, both of whom are vociferous foes of climate action and the EPA.

Hensarling recently voted for a bill that would overturn the EPA’s science-based finding that greenhouse gas emissions cause harm to human health and the environment. He also signed a pledge from Americans for Prosperity to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” Rick Perry signed that pledge as well.

Perry recently made the argument that the EPA causes businesses to “stop spending money.” However, under EPA water programs, the agency assists communities in helping build and finance water infrastructure upgrades – just the kind of assistance towns and cities around Texas may need. Instead of recognizing those benefits for municipalities struggling with water problems, Perry says he’s praying away EPA regulations.

So while heat waves get more intense and the costs of water infrastructure failure continue to pile up for cities and towns around the country, the burden on consumers will become more apparent.

Meanwhile, the residents of Kemp are also organizing a “pray for rain” rally tonight at the local park. Perhaps they should pray their government officials don’t de-fund the EPA.

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Below are old comments from the earlier Facebook commenting system:

Over 4″ of rain here today on Hartford CT- torrential monsoonal down pours. Both winter and summer precipitation is increasing- rapidly.

De-funding the EPA, or NOAA, at the beginning of a planetary climatic disaster along with an aging decrepit infrastructure seems like a recipe for chaos.

4 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 8:36pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

I made another screen grab of the NYC rain event ending at 9:00 PM tonight. This one is the most amazing yet, when one considers millions of people were under it, and it wasn’t produced by a tropical system.

1 · Like · Reply · August 15 at 9:22pm

Wesley Rolley · Top Commenter · Northwestern University

I just picked up a copy of The Fate of Greenland from my local public library and MIT Press. The real emphasis is on “abrupt climate change” as you might guess with with Wallace Broecker and George Denton among the authors. The evidence show very large swings in a very short time, measured in years, not decades. Storied like this one on record heat makes me wonder if we are not already on the cusp of something very bad.

2 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 6:57pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

WR –
At the end of the Younger Dryas ………….. “Other proxy data, such as dust concentration, and snow accumulation, suggest an even more rapid transition, requiring about a 7 °C (12.60 °F) warming in just a few years”

1 · Like · Reply · August 15 at 9:40pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

no need to wonder Wesley… we are.

1 · Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:28pm

  • Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

Timescales of events described as ‘abrupt’ may vary dramatically. Changes recorded in the climate of Greenland at the end of the Younger Dryas, as measured by ice-cores, imply a sudden warming of +10°C within a timescale of a few years.#

1 · Like · Reply · August 16 at 3:11am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The cities that have recorded the most extreme rain they have ever seen the last two years is rather long now. Just this summer :
” On July 28th more than 15 inches (381 mm) of rain accumulated in a relatively small portion extreme eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois, causing extensive damages from flash floods and one fatality. Dubuque, Iowa received 16.01 inches (407 mm) of rain in July, but that total was swollen by a record 24-hour rainfall of 10.62 inches (270 mm) on the night of July 27th. ”

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 9:55pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The rain event foot prints are growing in size. They are shortening the time the rain falls, and the amounts continue to rise. They are being spawned by the deep upper level lows sidling around the new giant highs.
Nature isn’t going reinvent the wheel to solve the heat imbalance she finds herself in. If one accepts that , when the size and power of the highs we see are going to be amazing. See Russia, see Texas, see Montana 4 years ago. And see this from New Zealand , this is scary –

…See More

Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:18pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The deniers point to these events as some sort of “balance” , please tell them the system is moving to the the extremes. And moving there at a right sweet clip.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:30pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Unusually heavy snow also fell in South Africa. Up to two feet (60 cm) of snow fell across large parts of eastern South Africa on July 25th–26th; the area typically receives a dusting of snow once or twice each year.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:32pm

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Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

The destruction of infrastructure this year by extreme rain events , is the real big ticket item. This new problem of hydrostatic pressure blowing up sewer systems, and forcing sewage back up drains in combined systems is going to be a real problem. The case in St. Louis this summer is a perfect example.
10 inches fell just north of the city. Sections of the storm drains on I-70 blew out the interstate. They were down hill from the event.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 9:30pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Thats for sure. I bet there is a lot of activity in the Insurance Co back offices.

If these events keep up they are going to be toast in the next 5yrs.

Its also going to impact the economy, surely a collapse is on the books within this period if this rate keeps up never mind increases. The airline industry for instance is going to be a pale of what it is now due to extreme events, peak oil and insurance costs.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:35pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Paul –
Fecal matter was in 100’s of homes during this example, blowing up a section of I-70 makes good copy, but the real pain is all those turds coming into all those houses.

Find out if your city has was is called a a combined sewer system.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 11:09pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

If you live where a “combined sewer system” is, you are deep trouble.
When 10 inches comes in 8 hours, fecal matter comes back up your drains.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 11:13pm

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George Ennis · Top Commenter · University of Toronto

I sure hope people enjoy their low taxes. But how does one drink tax savings in lieu of water?

I am always amazed when some people say we can adapt to climate change. If we are not prepared or unable to repair the existing infrastructure why would there be any political will to pay for upgrades.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 6:58pm

Marc Jensen · Top Commenter

When you go through a phase change the time to go from hot to boiling is extremely fast. A phase change like what we seeing with the climate may be.
just as fast.

1 · Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 11:36pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 12:06am

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Forget the heat , the speed of the water cycle will crush us.
11.81 inches in one hour , there’s U-tube to show the results.
That’s Montreal, Canada. How will we build a new world in a land that receives a foot of rain in one hour?
On land that was scrapped clean by glaciers. That’s right, all the good dirt is several 100 miles south of Canada. The ice pushed it there, folks.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 12:11am

Leif Erik Knutsen · Top Commenter · Friends with Joseph Romm

“Perhaps they should pray their government officials don’t de-fund the EPA.” I would add, don’t deny people the right to be efficient save money and help in some way to make the life of those that share the earth, better.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 7:51pm

janumakonda (signed in using AOL)

Quite alarming. Is it due to Climate Change?

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP), India.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 7:47pm

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

How long can you keep your head in the sand before the rest of you gets buried with it? Nobody alive has seen weather like the world has seen in the last two years.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 8:08pm

Paul Magnus · Top Commenter

Yes. Its Global Warming thats driving it all.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 10:36pm

Prokaryotes – · Top Commenter (signed in using Hotmail)

700 water main breaks in Houston — a day.
City imposes water rationing; heat, high use put pressure on pipes across central US

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 16 at 6:26pm

John Poteet · Top Commenter · Chico, California

Almost 8 inches of rain at JFK airport in one day. Deadly freak storms daily in the U.S. Killing droughts in Texas and Oklahoma. Exactly which silo are the Climate Change deniers hiding in where they don’t notice things are badly, badly weird?

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 8:06pm

Russ Ferriday

@Wesley Rolley ” if we are not already on the cusp of something very bad.”

I can help you out… we are on the cusp of something very bad.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 10:23pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

Dear Stephen Lacey –
I have a great story to tell , and you can write it bubba. It;s about the bill for climate change.

Like · Reply · Subscribe · August 15 at 11:27pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

It involves the sewer and water manger from Oklahoma City. This summer was a deadline to file suit there , if you believed the city of OKC mismanaged one of these events.
He told the crowd the problem wasn’t because the city of OKC had failed to design a robust system. it was because 15 inches fell in 6 hours there.
This fight is going on all cross America now. Nothing points to the disconnect between where we were and where we are like this.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 11:53pm

Colorado Bob · Top Commenter

And this is happening every time one of these new clouds comes over a town. Big or small. They all see it it as a one off event, they never see it as part of a larger event.

Like · Reply · August 15 at 11:56pm

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