Water infrastructure needs billions in investment,
US budget office says
WASHINGTON — Drinking
water and wastewater infrastructure investment costs over the next 20
years may range from $492 billion to $820 billion, according to a
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released Wednesday.
The Environment and Energy Daily
website said the CBO figures closely mirror a recent analysis from the
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On the high
end, the CBO analysis also reflects a February 2001 report from the
Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), a coalition of industry,
engineering, professional and environmental groups, the article said.
Water and wastewater infrastructure was much discussed this year on
Capitol Hill, but Congress took little action due to uncertainty
surrounding the overall financial need, Bush administration opposition
and a range of other controversial items that come into play, the
Industry officials and analysts continue to
predict a substantial increase in spending needs over the next two
decades to maintain and improve the nation's aging system of underground
pipes, treatment plants, storage facilities and other components.
In the report, CBO noted the difficulty in making estimates because of
uncertainty surrounding future regulatory requirements and technological
breakthroughs, as well as the lack of a national database to gauge the
age and condition of existing infrastructure, said the article.
CBO's study covers a 20-year period from 2000 to 2019 and makes its
high-end and low-end estimates in 2001 dollars, measuring in terms of
costs as financed.
According to the article, the final
figures take into account a water system's use of borrowing to spread
out the burden on its ratepayers over time.
Water and Drinking Water Gap Analysis report released in
September contained similar infrastructure costs range from $499
billion to $929 billion.
WIN compiled only a high-end,
$806 billion estimate in its February 2001 report.
Addressing the so-called gap, which represents current spending minus
future capital spending needs, CBO projects a $60 billion to $388
billion range, according to the article.
CBO did not
factor operations and maintenance into its analysis. For comparison,
EPA's gap without O&M showed a $77 billion to $444 billion range, the
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