American Water (NYSE: AWK), the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company, is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote the fifth annual Fix a Leak Week, which runs from March 18-24. The national awareness campaign, part of the EPA’s WaterSense program, is designed to raise awareness about small leaks and other water waste that may be occurring within homes. A historic lack of investment in infrastructure has left the nation’s vast network of water systems in serious disrepair. The risks of allowing these systems to lapse are as real as they are alarming. Considering there are more than 110 million households in this country, a seemingly minor leaky faucet or running toilet collectively results in a tremendous amount of wasted water -- more than a trillion gallons of water are lost annually nationwide through leaks occurring within our homes, with average residence losing 11,000 gallons a year this way. However, through initiatives like Fix a Leak Week, water utilities like American Water, are hoping to significantly reduce that amount. “Considering leaks as small as an eighth of an inch can consume up to 3,500 gallons of water per day, being proactive in checking for leaks, and fixing them in a timely manner, not only makes you a more environmentally conscious consumer of one of the world’s most valuable resources, but also saves money on your monthly water bill,” said Dr. Mark LeChevallier, Director of Innovation & Environmental Stewardship for American Water. Just as homeowners have a responsibility to check their pipes for leaks, water utilities nationwide must also find and repair system leaks. In water systems across the country, it is estimated that almost seven billion gallons of drinking water are lost each day through leaky pipes. Ironically this week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will release its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The ASCE gave the nation’s drinking water/wastewater a D- grade in both 2005 and 2009 – the worst condition among the categories of infrastructure systems studied. American Water invests $800 million to $1 billion in its systems annually to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality water to its customers. The lion’s share of the annual investment is to renew, replace and extend the underground lines, valves and meters that aren’t seen but are the means by which customers are served.