One-third of the country is in a drought, according to the federal government, affecting 95 million people. Despite the urgency, America is still losing a lot of water it still has.
For example: There are nearly a quarter-million water main breaks a year, according to the American Water Works Association. Two trillion gallons of drinkable water are lost annually due to a variety of reasons, including leaks, though that number is an educated guess. Nobody really knows for sure.
The underground infrastructure is getting old and needs to be replaced, but no one wants to pay for it. "It's hard to own something you don't see," said Madelyn Glickfeld of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
Nowhere is the job of laying new pipe more daunting than in Los Angeles, where there are 7,000 miles of freshwater pipes under the city. "That's enough pipe to go from here all the way to New York and back," said Marty Adams, assistant general manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Many of the pipes are almost a century old, including one that burst in spectacular fashion last year, flooding Sunset Boulevard and much of UCLA. Just this week in Newport Beach, a million gallons of water flooded a neighborhood because of a ruptured main.