The United States’ $1 Trillion Problem

AWWA Releases Alarming Infrastructure Report

awwaimagesCommunities across the United States are sitting on top of a massive amount of aging water infrastructure, much of which needs to be replaced in the next 25 years. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has released a report called “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge.”  The report estimates it will cost more than $1 trillion between now and 2035 to repair and expand the aging systems that bring drinking water into U.S. homes.

AWWA officials say the costs associated with the massive overhaul will have to be met primarily through higher water rates and fees.  Although water rates will vary by community and region, in some areas the infrastructure costs could triple the amount due on a typical bill.  Smaller communities are expected to face the greatest challenges because they have fewer residents to share the financial burden for the upgrades.

“The needs uncovered in ‘Buried No Longer’ are large, but they are not insurmountable,” says 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.” The AWWA report says infrastructure renewal investments are likely to be incurred each year over several decades, so many utilities may choose to finance infrastructure replacement on a “pay-as-you-go” basis rather than through debt financing.

Click here to read the entire report, which includes more than 35 tables and graphs detailing information by region and utility size.

In addition to reading the AWWA report, you can also view a Minnesota-made documentary about the critical importance of keeping the state’s water and sewer systems adequately funded. AE2S is a proud sponsor of “Liquid Assets Minnesota.” The documentary includes interviews with 33 water experts in 12 cities of all sizes, to provide a comprehensive look at the state’s aging water infrastructure.

The organization BluePrint Minnesota produced the documentary to show various cities’ successes and challenges, as well as showcase water infrastructure solutions that Minnesota communities have implemented. Public and private experts came together to form BluePrint Minnesota to raise awareness of the value and critical importance of the state’s water and wastewater infrastructure.  Organizers say the documentary is important because it can provide a blueprint for groups in other states who need to deliver their own infrastructure messages.

The program has appeared on Public Television stations around Minnesota and North Dakota. You can also view it online by clicking here.