Survey: Stormwater infrastructure investments meet only ‘most urgent needs’
Investments in stormwater infrastructure are barely covering only the most urgent needs of utilities, according to Overland Park, Kan.-based Black & Veatch’s eighth Stormwater Utility Survey. The survey of stormwater utility officials, released Monday, includes elements of how to address combined sewer overflows and data related to billing consumers.
The survey shows that 47 percent of respondents believe funding for their respective stormwater utility only meets the utility’s most urgent needs, and 10 percent stated that funding was not sufficient to meet their most urgent needs. Meanwhile, utilities and local governments wrestle with numerous pressures, including climate change, aging infrastructure, water quality and access to capital, according to Black & Veatch. “Water infrastructure funding is at a critical stage in many U.S. regions as communities work to rehabilitate aging infrastructure, comply with environmental regulations and address seemingly new weather patterns,” said Dan McCarthy, president and CEO of Black & Veatch’s global water business. “Stormwater infrastructure alone accounts for nearly $100 billion in needed infrastructure investments nationwide.”
In other findings, 21 percent of survey respondents said their utility is dealing with overflow challenges from combined sewer systems — sewer systems that collect both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff — in which the discharge of wastewater and stormwater from a combined sewer system goes directly into an open body of water, usually because of heavy precipitation. Of those respondents, only one-third currently recover costs associated with combined sewer overflow reduction in their stormwater user fee. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates more than 770 cities and town across the country have combined sewer systems.
The company says the results of its survey correlate with a recent study by the Reston, Va.-based American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) recently released 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. In that study, ASCE rated wastewater infrastructure in the United States with a grade of “D-” based on issues including aging, under-designed or inadequately maintained systems.