News Feature | January 22, 2016

EPA Estimates $271 Billion In Wastewater Infrastructure Needs

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

In Albany, NY, some water pipes are so old they were laid when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.

“If that doesn’t shock our senses, I don’t know what would,” said Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, who is calling for greater water infrastructure spending, according to WAMC.

And in Syracuse, NY, there were 372 water main breaks during 2015. The first week of 2016 saw at least 10 more, the report said.

Albany and Syracuse are hardly unique. Cities and states across the country are in dire need of infrastructure funding, but it remains unclear where all the money will come from.

On the whole, the U.S. needs $271 billion to upgrade and maintain its wastewater infrastructure over the next five years. The U.S. EPA released a survey this month highlighting that figure. The agency surveyed the states to come to its conclusion.

According to the EPA, that figure includes $52 billion for secondary wastewater treatment, $50 billion for advanced wastewater treatment, $51 billion for conveyance system repair, $45 billion for new conveyance systems, $48 billion for combined sewer overflow correction, $19 billion for stormwater management programs, and $6 billion for recycled water distribution.

Joel Beauvais, EPA’s acting deputy assistant administrator for water, weighed in on the scale of the challenge.

“The only way to have clean and reliable water is to have infrastructure that is up to the task,” he said. “Our nation has made tremendous progress in modernizing our treatment plants and pipes in recent decades, but this survey tells us that a great deal of work remains.”

Some of the need will be met through private and public funding, but the gap between spending and demand continues to widen. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the gap will rise to $144 billion by 2040.

For more on the nation’s aging infrastructure, visit Water Online’s Asset Management Solutions Center.