Download Acrobat Reader
to view .pdf files
Utilities Need $277B to
Upgrade Treatment Systems, EPA Says
Tasha Eichenseher, Greenwire reporter
Bringing community water systems into
compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act will cost $277
billion over the next 20 years -- a nearly 60 percent increase
over needs reported four years ago, the U.S. EPA said in a
assessment released yesterday.
The new report examines data from 2003 to
determine the cost of repairing and upgrading aging pipes and treatment
facilities at nearly 75,000 water utilities. EPA spokesman Dale Kemery
said increased funding needs in the current report over the previous
assessment released in 2001 reflects improved surveying techniques and
increased state participation.
EPA's assessment focuses on drinking water only.
Industry officials and environmentalists often cite an even more
dramatic funding gap -- ranging from $400 billion to $1 trillion -- but
they are including upgrades for both drinking water and wastewater
According to a 2002 EPA report on infrastructure
repairs needed to meet both Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act
requirements, the funding gap is as large as $543 billion for the period
from 2000 to 2019 (Greenwire,
Oct. 1, 2002).
EPA's numbers for drinking water are consistent
with a 2001 American Water Works Association
report that puts the funding gap at
$250 billion over 30 years, AWWA's Al Warburton said. "Whether it's $1
trillion or $700 billion [for both drinking water and wastewater], all
the numbers demonstrate that there is a big need out there," he said.
For drinking water repairs, utilities are eligible
for federal funds from EPA's $850 million Drinking Water State Revolving
Fund. Congress appropriated $6.96 billion for the program from 1997
through 2004 for low interest loans.
The general infrastructure funding gap has drawn
the attention of Congress, which has been debating a proposal by the
Bush administration to cut EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund to
$730 million in fiscal year 2006. The fund is the primary source of
federal resources for wastewater repairs.