Better Roads Staff
Drip. Drip.. Drip.
A new report says that the cost of repairing and expanding our buried drinking water infrastructure over the next 25 years will be more than a trillion dollars. And higher water bills (as much as three times) and local fees will pick up most of the tab.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) report, Buried No Longer, says the $1 trillion figure assumes pipes being replaced at the end of their useful lives. “Because pipe assets last a long time, water systems that were built in the latter part of the 19th century and throughout much of the 20th century have, for the most part, never experienced the need for pipe replacement on a large scale.”
Postponing infrastructure investment in the near-term raises the overall cost and increases the likelihood of water main breaks and other infrastructure failures, says the report.
Among the key findings:
• Between now and 2050, needs exceed $1.7 trillion. Replacement needs account for about 54 percent of the total, with the balance attributable to population changes.
• Pipe replacement accounts for more than 84 percent of a $278 billion need in the Northeast and Midwest through 2035. In the South and West, expansion to meet a growing population amounts to about 62 percent of a projected $277 billion cost over those years.
• The required national-level investment will double from roughly $13 billion a year today to almost $30 billion annually by the 2040s (in 2010 dollars).
• Household water bills will rise. How much will vary, depending on past investment, community size and geographic region. In some communities the infrastructure costs alone could triple the size of a typical family’s bill.
• Places with fewer people living far apart, small, rural communities, will be hardest hit because they have more pipe miles per customer than large, urban systems.
• Most impacted households could see their drinking water bills increase between $300 and $550 per year above current levels.
You can find the full report at www.awwa.org/infrastructure
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