When a 24-inch water main serving Philadelphia International Airport burst one day last spring, service to all terminals went down for several hours. Restrooms and water fountains didn’t work — and bars and restaurants were forced to close — creating a less-than-pleasant day at one of the larger U.S. transportation hubs.
While the main break came as a surprise, it was likely the result of a small leak that grew over time. Until it burst, however, there’s no telling how many millions of gallons of water the utility lost. From the largest metropolitan utilities to the smallest water systems, these types of leaks are a problem everywhere.