The United States’ Deteriorating Water Infrastructure
It is no secret that America’s water infrastructure is rapidly aging, with much of it considered at the end of its useful life. The country’s drinking water, wastewater systems and inland waterways received a failing grade – a D minus – on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The Report Card found that 7 billion gallons of clean drinking water are lost each day because of leaking pipes.
The country’s aging dams are also at risk. More than 4,000 of the dams in the United States are listed as deficient, including nearly 2,000 that are considered “high-hazard-potential” dams, which means that a dam failure would likely result in deaths. If we do not repair our deteriorating water infrastructure, millions of Americans could lack reliable and clean water, and the country’s ability to respond to natural disasters and protect itself from water-borne contaminants would be weakened.
Given these problems, federal funding for water infrastructure improvements is critical. Despite investing billions each year, it appears as if the U.S. is not making adequate investment to protect our water systems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 2000 and 2019, the gap between our needs for water infrastructure improvements and what we actually spend could amount to a total reaching $263 billion – and this number could rise with increased demand for water over the next 20 years.
Clearly, greater investment is needed to better protect the aging water systems in the United States to meet the needs of the growing country.