The Costs of Our Failing Water Infrastructure, Cont.

Last week we cited some distressing statistics on the trillions of gallons of water lost from leaky pipes and other faulty infrastructure in our nation’s cities. To sum up, according to a report recently published in the New York Times, an estimated 250,000 water lines burst in the U.S. every year, and the General Accounting Office estimates that 20 percent of our water supply is lost to leaks in U.S. cities annually, a result of often nearly century-old water infrastructure that is failing us in urban and rural communities all over the country.

The cost to address these staggering losses? The EPA estimates that approximately $600 billion is required to repair all U.S. water infrastructure by 2019, and $384 billion is needed to maintain U.S. public drinking water systems through 2030!

Specifically, the EPA has identified needed investments over the next 20 years for tens of thousands of miles of pipes and thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems, all of which are vital to our public health and economy. The $384 billion total includes the needs of 73,400 water systems across the country, including necessary improvements in:

 · Distribution and transmission: ($247.5 billion needed to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating lines)

· Treatment: ($72.5 billion needed to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination)

· Storage: ($39.5 billion needed to construct, rehabilitate or cover finished water storage reservoirs)

· Source: ($20.5 billion needed to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors)

So why has the federal government been cutting, rather than increasing, spending on U.S. water infrastructure, leaving local and state governments shouldering far too much of this burden alone? As we have reported before, the Congressional Budget Office recently pointed out that federal spending on water infrastructure declined by about 19 percent between 2003 and 2014. We at CWC are very concerned, as all Americans should be. Join us in our effort to push for greater investment in water infrastructure funding. Visit us at


About Clean Water Council

The Clean Water Council (CWC) is a group of national organizations representing underground construction contractors design professionals, manufacturers and suppliers, labor unions and other committed to ensuring a high quality of life through sound environmental infrastructure. Working in concert, CWC's 39 national organizations, advocate federal legislation and policies that will promote clean water and improve the nation's failing infrastructure.​
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