America's water system—its treatment plants and pipes—is in need of very serious repair if the country is to have safe drinking water, experts say. And it won't come cheap.
"This is serious, and if it's not fixed, we could see a breakout of diseases from unsafe water," said Shafiqul Islam, a professor and director of the Water Diplomacy Initiative at Tufts University.
"Every two minutes there's a water pipe breaking in the U.S.," he said. "We've been putting band aids on this, but we can't do that anymore."
The Environmental Protection Agency released a report in April saying the U.S. water infrastructure would need $384 billion in upgrades from 2011 through 2030. That's up from the $335 billion the EPA projected in 2007 for the same time period.
An even higher amount for repairs—over a longer period of time—is estimated by the non-profit American Water Works Association. The scientific and educational group says that it will take more than $1.7 trillion for water system improvement between 2011 and 2050.