Winter storm Uri – aka Snovid – revealed a new risk to residential water supplies in Central Texas: Our water lines/grid, whether on private property or the city’s, are not buried deeply enough to withstand extended freezing weather. When these systems were built, nobody expected to experience almost a week of below-freezing temperatures coupled with widespread loss of power.
Has it ever occurred to you that our water grid is a supply system, much like our electricity grid? Now we know that our water grid is susceptible to breaking in ways it was not designed for. In the Quebec snow storm of 1998, high voltage electrical transmission lines and towers crumpled like paper toys. A deep freeze can do similar things to Central Texas water lines if they are not buried deep enough in the ground. This is common knowledge in places that regularly freeze in winter, such as the northern US and Canada, where the water system is buried 6’ underground.
How much will it cost to make Central Texas water grid resilient against freezing? Retrofitting always costs much more than new installations. That is going to be one massive infrastructure spending bill and will massively increase our taxes and fees. It seems that climate change just blew its way through our door and left a big scar.
It’s always more capital-efficient to build new infrastructure (i.e. water grid) properly up front than to retrofit. Disaster management expert Samantha Montano says, “For every one dollar the federal government spends on mitigation, there are six dollars saved in response and recovery costs.” We can assume the ratio is similar for local efforts; even if it is only three dollars saved in recovery costs, that is significant. Uri just gave us a new design mandate that will be critical if we are to provide uninterrupted water security for homes through the next major storm.
Nature Towns is designing to ensure family security, which means providing for the community’s food, energy, water and climate security. We can design these benefits into your community and real estate so that you buy them with your home. That is a value-added approach to residential real estate development and if designed properly, it doesn’t cost you more than you are paying now.
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(Photo Credit: Pintrest / Eugene Roose Link)