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EPA Estimate About One-Third Of True Infrastructure Needs

In February 2001, EPA released its latest estimate of drinking water infrastructure needs, based on surveys of about 3,800 water systems in 1999. The survey found that the total infrastructure need nationwide is $150.9 billion for the next 20 years. The report may be downloaded from www.epa.gov/ogwdw/needs.html.

However, the reported total only covers specific documented infrastructure needs, mainly those related to compliance with current and future EPA rules. It does not include the vast majority of needs not documented by states, including the cost of replacing aging treatment facilities and distribution systems, which represents the largest infrastructure expense facing the nation's water suppliers. EPA concedes that the survey underestimates the true need due to the stringent documentation requirements.

By comparison to the Water Infrastructure Network's (WIN) analysis, the EPA data only represents about one-third of the total infrastructure costs facing the nation's 55,000 water suppliers. WIN based its findings not only on EPA data, but also on information from the Department of Commerce, the Census Bureau, the American Water Works Association and projections based on when pipe was laid and treatment facilities were built.

In February AMWA and the other members of WIN offered a blueprint to Congress to help cover some of these overwhelming costs. Water Infrastructure Now, released on February 13 at the U.S. Capitol, asks Congress to provide $57 billion over the next five years in loans and grants for drinking water and wastewater systems.

(Courtesy of AMWA)

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