Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) February 27, 2012
The cost of repairing and expanding U.S. drinking water infrastructure will top $1 trillion in the next 25 years, an expense that likely will be met primarily through higher water bills and local fees, a groundbreaking study by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) shows.
The report, titled “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge,” analyzes many factors, including timing of water main installation and life expectancy, materials used, replacement costs and shifting demographics. Nationally, the infrastructure needs are almost evenly divided between replacement and expansion requirements.
The report is available at http://www.awwa.org/infrastructure.
Cities will be impacted in different ways depending on their sizes and geography. Many small communities will face the greatest challenges because they have smaller populations across whom to spread the expenses.
“Because pipe assets last a long time, water systems that were built in the latter part of the 19th century and throughout much of the 20th century have, for the most part, never experienced the need for pipe replacement on a large scale,” the report states. “The dawn of an era in which the assets will need to be replaced puts a growing stress on communities that will continue to increase for decades to come.”
Among the Key Findings from “Buried No Longer” are:
o Pipe replacement expenses account for more than 84% of the $278 billion need in the Northeast and Midwest regions through 2035. Meanwhile, in the rapidly growing South and West, expansion to meet a growing population amounts to about 62% of the projected need of $277 billion in that same time period. Replacement-related needs are a less important factor in these regions.
o The required national-level investment will double from roughly $13 billion a year today to almost $30 billion annually by the 2040s (in 2010 dollars). This level of investment must then be sustained for many years if current levels of water system performance and service are to be maintained.
o Small, rural communities may face the biggest challenge. Places with fewer people living far apart have more pipe “miles per customer” than large, urban systems. The study suggests that the most impacted households could see their drinking water bills increase between $300 and $550 per year above current levels to address infrastructure needs.
“The needs uncovered in ‘Buried No Longer’ are large, but they are not insurmountable,” said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance. “When you consider everything that tap water delivers -- public health protection, fire protection, support for the economy, the quality of life we enjoy – we owe it to future generations to confront the infrastructure challenge today.”
“Water is a basic necessity of life,” said AWWA President Jerry Stevens, who is also general manager of West Des Moines Water Works in Iowa. “Water utilities are committed to finding fair and equitable rate designs that address affordability issues as they face the increased cost of infrastructure replacement. The good news is that there is still time to act. ‘Buried No Longer’ helps us recognize the challenge ahead. Together, we can take the necessary steps to meet that challenge.”
AWWA is the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the entire water community. Through our collective strength we become better stewards of water for the greatest good of the people and the environment.
# # #