Clean Drinking Water Will Cost Billions In Capital Investment
The nation’s water utilities will need to invest an estimated $277 billion over the next 20 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) third Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment.
The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that the EPA conduct an assessment of the national public water system capital improvement needs every four years.
This report to Congress, which reflects data collected in 2003, documents anticipated costs for repairs and replacement of transmission and distribution pipes, storage and treatment equipment, and projects that are necessary to deliver safe supplies of drinking water.
“Water infrastructure is a lifeline for community health and prosperity,” said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for the Office of Water. “As our communities grow, so too must the commitment of the government and citizens to sustainable financing, innovative management and technology, and efficient use of water.”
The purpose of the survey is to document the 20 year capital investment needs of public water systems that are eligible to receive federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund money–some 54,000 community water systems and 21,400 not-for-profit non-community water systems.
This large investment need reflects the challenges confronting water utilities as they deal with aging infrastructures that may have been constructed 50 to 100 years ago.
Water utilities pay for infrastructure using revenue from rates charged to customers and may finance large projects using loans or bonds, state funding programs, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
The report is developed in consultation with a workgroup of consisting state, American Indian, Alaska Native Village, and water utility representatives.
Nearly 4,000 public water systems participated in the survey. All 1,342 of the nation’s large water systems, serving more than 40,000 people, responded to the survey. A random sample of about one-third of the 7,337 medium systems, serving 3,301 to 40,000 people, was taken.
For small community water systems, serving 3,300 and fewer people, American Indian systems, Alaska native village systems, and not-for-profit noncommunity systems, EPA used results of the 1999 assessment that were derived from extensive field efforts and adjusted the needs to January 2003 dollars.
Results from the assessment are used to develop a formula to distribute Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants.
Since the program began in 1997, EPA has made available nearly $8 billion in funding to states for infrastructure projects to help utilities provide safe drinking water. States supplement their EPA grants by matching funds and with bonds, repayments and interest earnings.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.