Imagine a Day without Water

15 Sep 2016 8:46 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

Published in Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The Pittsburgh region recently experienced several intense rainfall events that caused flooding in many areas. In neighborhoods like Whitehall, we have seen this happen “too many times.” In Connellsville, flooding was so extreme the school year had to be delayed.

The primary cause of flooding is our aging infrastructure, resulting in decreased abilities to respond to intense rainfalls. Our combined storm and sanitary infrastructure was built over 50 years ago. Unfortunately, clogged and undersized storm drains are all too common in our region.

Storm and sanitary infrastructure is located underground, out of sight and out of mind, not easily showing its age. These systems must work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to bring clean, safe water to us and take away used water to be treated before it is safely released back into the environment. What happens when these systems fail to keep up with our needs?

Imagine a day without water. You would not be able to provide your dog with water, or make your coffee. Forget about teeth brushing, flushing your toilet or taking a shower. Nonresidential enterprises, from schools to corporations, breweries to hospitals, factories to power plants, car washes to aquariums, also need water.

The Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Pittsburgh Section, has joined the nationwide effort “Imagine a Day Without Water.” Hundreds of organizations across the country, including water agencies, mayors, engineers, schools and business and labor leaders are joining forces today to raise public awareness and spark action to solve water and wastewater problems. 

Without your voice advocating this work, our water systems will continue to be ignored. Please visit​projects/​45997-imagine-a-day-without-water to sign the petition. Demand investment in water systems. Pittsburghers can imagine a day without water if needed, but should never have to live it.

Vice Chair
Environmental and Water Resources Institute
American Society of Civil Engineers, Pittsburgh Section
South Park


  • 15 Sep 2016 2:15 PM | Anonymous
    Nice blog. We are fortunate to have plenty of rainfall and wet weather in Pittsburgh but imagine a day without water in California which happens to be in a drought condition for so many years. Other factors, such as ageing infrastructure mentioned in the blog, can also cause a day without water. For example, untreated sewage can overflow to receiving waters and contaminate our water supply sources.
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