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Politics & Government

The State Of Sewer Pipelines In Pennsylvania

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Kimberly Paynter
/
WHYY
Wastewater pipeline infrastructure in Pennsylvania is old and in some cities pollutes rivers. In Philadelphia about half of the wastewater system has brick piping. John Key Junior inspects a sewer in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania is an old state, one where people settled and built infrastructure early. That means much of the infrastructure in the Commonwealth’s cities is breaking down with age, needs expensive maintenance, retrofits, or replacement, or just doesn’t fit with contemporary ideas of urban planning. Add to that many cities’ struggling budgets, which keep sewer repairs and maintenance from being addressed in a timely manner.Keystone Crossroads previously covered where bridges and roads stand, but what about sewers?

What condition are pipes in? 

The short answer is it’s hard to say.

A pipe’s lifetime can range from 15 to 100 years depending on what material was used to build it and the soil it sits in, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). For example, about half of Philadelphia’s wastewater system has brick piping, which tends to be pretty resilient. In Pennsylvania, some of the oldest pipes came online in the 1800s and have been operating for close to 200 years.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner Keystone Crossroads.