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in Chapter 5
5 If It’s Broke, Fix It

The shelf life of pipes and mechanical pumping mechanisms depends on a variety of factors, including how they are manufactured, environmental conditions, water pressure and the composition of the water flowing through it. Lloyd (2011)9 Found that for urban water networks to function optimally they should be replaced after 40-80 years, pumping stations and water treatment plants every 25 years, and some sub-systems and associated components every 10-15 years. In the real world, however, replacement rates are much, much slower. In France, a country with the longest history of privatized urban water management (75 percent of drinking water and 50 percent of sanitation services are controlled by Veolia and Suez environment("Les diferents modes de gestion de France," 2004), the largest water multinationals on the planet), at present network renewal rates it would take 140 years to completely replace existing water supply networks and 160 years to replace wastewater treatment networks. It should be noted this is a national average and that urban areas have significantly higher (80 years) replacement rates, but even at this accelerated pace, by the time Suez and Veolia finished with setting in the final pipes, they would have to prepare to replace the whole system all over again.

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