DENVER — 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, an American Water Works Association (AWWA) report asserts.
The report, 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, the association says. Nationally, the infrastructure needs are almost evenly divided between replacement and expansion requirements.
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 AWWA report says. “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.”
But AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance says meeting the needs uncovered in the report is not an insurmountable task. “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.”
Some House and Senate subcommittee hearings this week have focused on water infrastructure concerns and proposed legislation to better address funding and financing options.