In her exit memo, former EPA chief Gina McCarthy highlights a growing need for water infrastructure investment. Over the next 20 years, Administrator McCarthy estimates the need for more than $655 billion in investments into drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Perhaps most notably about this enormous figure is that it does not include the cost of replacing lead pipes, like those neglected in Flint, Michigan.
While under McCarthy’s direction, EPA funded $16 billion in wastewater infrastructure projects and $10 billion in drinking water infrastructure projects. The sad truth is that these numbers only represent about 10% of the investment needed. According to the 2030 Water Resources Group’s 2009 report Charting our Water Future, over the next 20 years demand for clean water will be 40% greater than today. Continuing to under-fund our water infrastructure investment will, in other words, only get worse, more expensive, and more destructive to our safety and economy.
Water infrastructure is an issue Congress can no longer ignore. The longer America waits to address the water gap, the more expensive and difficult it will be to resolve. As water is the most fundamental of human needs, the Clean Water Council expects Congress to take decisive action to fund water projects by working in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion that reflects our collective need for access to clean water.