AWWA Infrastructure Report Issues Call to Action

AWWA has published a new report stating that, “The massive investment needed for buried drinking water infrastructure in the United States totals more than $1 trillion between now and 2035. The cost of that investment to repair and expand US drinking water infrastructure will be met primarily through higher water bills and local fees, costing some households in small communities as much as $550 more a year…”

Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge” is a call to action for utilities, consumers and policy makers and recognizes that the need to replace pipe in the ground “puts a growing stress on communities that will continue to increase for decades to come.” They will be affected in different ways depending on their size and geography. Many small communities will face the greatest challenges because they have fewer people to support the expenses.

Some of the key findings in “Buried No Longer” include:

  • The needs are large. The cost of replacing pipes at the end of their useful lives will total more than $1 trillion nationwide between 2011 and 2035 and exceed $1.7 trillion by 2050.
  • Household water bills will go up. Although water bills will vary by community size and geographic region, for some communities the infrastructure costs alone could triple the size of a typical family’s bill.
  • The costs keep coming. Infrastructure renewal investments are likely to be incurred each year over several decades. For that reason, many utilities may choose to finance infrastructure replacement on a “pay-as-you-go” basis rather than through debt financing.

The report includes more than 35 tables and graphs detailing information by region and utility size. For example, the graphs for utilities in the West show that the investment for growth is consistently greater than that required for replacement through 2050, while just the opposite is true for utilities in the Northeast.

ASDWA recommends that states and other water community partners with an interest in sustainable small systems read this interesting analysis.


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