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Thursday, June 6, 2013

$384 Billion Needed for Drinking Water Infrastructure by 2030

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its fifth Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. The assessment, which is conducted every four years, outlines the investment needed to maintain safe drinking water for the nation for the coming two decades. The price tag from the current assessment comes in at $384 billion, which is well above (even after accounting for inflation) the estimate from the first assessment in 1997 of $138 billion.

The assessment shows that improvements are primarily needed in:

    · Distribution and transmission: $247.5 billion to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating lines 
    · Treatment: $72.5 billion to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination 
    · Storage: $39.5 billion to construct, rehabilitate or cover finished water storage reservoirs
    · Source: $20.5 billion to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors
Hence, much of the anticipated cost is associated with upgrading the current infrastructure. While this creates some opportunities for increasing the resilience of that infrastructure by adaptation, given EPA grants only help to cover a small fraction of such costs, and given the current state of the balance sheet, EPA's latest survey may just be an estimate of the adaptation deficit in U.S. water resources management.

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