“By 2020, the average age of the 1.6 million miles of water and sewer pipes in the United States will hit 45 years. Cast iron pipes in at least 600 towns and counties are more than a century old, according to industry estimates. And though Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million older ones remain, ready to leach lead and other contaminants into drinking water from something as simple as a change in water source.” But before we replace the old pipes, we’ve got to decide what to replace them with. Do we go with the traditional metals (that some say have caused some problems in the past) or with the upstart plastics (with problems unknown)? This is America, so we’ll settle the debate the way we always do: With a hell of a lot of lobbying (and, one imagines, the occasional tweet). And “how the pipe wars play out — in city and town councils, in state capitals, in Washington — will determine how drinking water is delivered to homes across America for generations to come.” So if you’ve got an opinion, you better pipe up now. From the NYT: The $300 Billion War Beneath the Street.

+ “Overall, we found that approximately 275 fewer children were born in Flint than we would have expected had the city not changed its water source.” From The Atlantic: The ‘Horrifying’ Consequence of Lead Poisoning. If you want to understand why a lot of people don’t trust government and other institutions, just follow the (ongoing) water story in Flint.