Report: At least $630 billion needed for wastewater, stormwater over next 20 years

stormwater

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently transmitted a report to Congress outlining clean water infrastructure investments – including wastewater and stormwater system upgrades – that are needed over the next 20 years.

Through the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey, states and U.S. territories report on future capital costs or investment needs to maintain and modernize publicly owned wastewater treatment works, stormwater infrastructure, nonpoint source control, and decentralized wastewater treatment systems like septic tanks.

“Protecting our nations waterways is vital for healthy communities. They provide sources of drinking water, support farming, power economic opportunity and transport and allow for recreation and fishing,” said EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. “This survey is an important estimate of needs that is based on information collected from the communities themselves. President Biden has secured the largest investments in history for water infrastructure, putting America in a strong position to help local systems protect our nation’s water quality.”

The 2022 survey represents the most recent comprehensive and robust report on wastewater, stormwater, and other clean water infrastructure needs in the U.S., and shows that at least $630 billion will be needed over the next 20 years to protect our nation’s waterbodies. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) said this represents a 73 percent increase in total reported needs since the previous 2012 report a decade ago.

“[This] report to Congress confirms what public clean water utilities across America already know – that there is a massive gap between available funds and the dollars actually needed to invest in the country’s clean water infrastructure, and that the gap is growing at a rapid and unsustainable pace,” said Adam Krantz, NACWA CEO. “Local utilities and their ratepayers simply cannot continue to bear the full burden for these costs. While the $50 billion in federal water investments provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) are important and much appreciated, this new report makes clear that amount will hardly make a dent in the overall need. Local ratepayers will continue to pay for the majority of investments, but the federal government must step up and come forward as a full and long-term partner to address the funding need.”

According to NACWA, unlike the Drinking Water Needs Assessment, which is EPA is required by statute to complete every four years, there is no similar statutory requirement for EPA to complete the CWNS on a specific timeline. The last survey was in 2012, and NACWA advocated strongly to include language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) requiring EPA to produce an updated CWNS.

The BIL aims to provide a $50 billion investment in upgrading critical water infrastructure – with almost $13 billion going to wastewater and stormwater management. EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving fund has supported over $160 billion in infrastructure since its inception in 1987, and EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program has issued over $43 billion in financing for water infrastructure projects since 2018.

Learn more about the survey and access the interactive dashboard.

Background

This is the 17th survey conducted since the passage of the Clean Water Act over 50 years ago. The last survey was conducted in 2012. Along with the needs data, the survey also collected technical data from all existing treatment facilities (e.g., flow, population served, effluent level, etc.). As of January 2022, there are 17,544 POTWs serving 270.4 million Americans, or 82% of the population. This information can be viewed and downloaded on the CWNS website.


Sources: U.S. EPA, NACWA

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