Water Infrastructure Improvement Price Tag $384bn

water fountain

by | Jun 5, 2013

water fountainSome $384 billion in improvements are needed for the nation’s drinking water infrastructure through 2030, according to an EPA survey.

The EPA’s fifth Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment identifies investments needed over the next 20 years for thousands of miles of pipes and thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems. The $384 billion includes the needs of 73,400 water systems across the country, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native Village water systems.

The assessment shows that improvements are primarily needed in:

  • Distribution and transmission: $247.5 billion to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating lines
  • Treatment: $72.5 billion to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination
  • Storage: $39.5 billion to construct, rehabilitate or cover finished water storage reservoirs
  • Source: $20.5 billion to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors

The survey, required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to be submitted to Congress every four years by the EPA, was developed in consultation with all 50 states and the Navajo Nation. The survey looked at the funding and operational needs of more than 3,000 public drinking water systems. In many cases, drinking water infrastructure was reported to be 50 to 100 years old.

EPA allocates Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants to states based on the finding of the assessment. These funds help states to provide low-cost financing to public water systems for infrastructure improvements.

Water scarcity, aging infrastructure, climate volatility, water quality issues and rising water-related energy risks are increasing the need for action in the US water sector, according to an Ernst & Young Global Cleantech Center whitepaper published in late May. The report analyzes water sector challenges and proposes a 10-point action agenda for addressing water infrastructure and sustainability issues.

In an April Environmental Leader blog, American Water’s Dr. Mark LeChevallier says climate change it putting significant stress on water infrastructure. For US water providers, addressing the impact of climate change will require: finding solutions to maintain adequate levels of water supply to communities; ensuring high standards of water quality in the face of droughts or flooding; and balancing the need for infrastructure improvements while keeping this vital resource as affordable as possible, LeChevallier writes.

Photo Credit: Bill McChesney via Flickr


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