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Water & Wastewater

  • Clean Water, and Drinking Water

    Summary

    • ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card graded the nation’s drinking water infrastructure a “D.”
    • One million miles of pipes spanning the nation – many of which were laid in the early to mid-20th century with a lifespan of 75 to 100 years – deliver billions of gallons of drinking water a day.
    • On average, there are 240,000 water main breaks per year in the U.S., wasting over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water, and leaking, aging pipes are estimated to waste six billion gallons of treated water per day.
    • According to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to maintain and expand drinking water service to meet demands over the next 25 years.
    • ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card graded the nation’s wastewater infrastructure a “D+.”
    • The nation’s 14,748 wastewater treatment plants protect public health and the environment.
    • It is expected that more than 56 million new users will be connected to centralized wastewater treatment systems over the next two decades, and an estimated $271 billion is needed to meet current and future demands. 
    • Years of wastewater treatment plant upgrades and more stringent federal and state regulations have significantly reduced untreated releases and improved water quality nationwide, but combined sewer overflows continue to plague older systems. Significant improvements are being made by utilizing green infrastructure and adding new storage capacity, which can reduce peak overflows.
    • As the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure continues to age, the cost to repair and replace our pipes and treatment systems will continue to increase. 

    Activities in the 116th Congress 

    • In the 115th Congress, ASCE endorsed two bipartisan pieces of legislation that advance green stormwater infrastructure systems – H.R. 3906, the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2017, and H.R. 2943, the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act. The Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act establishes up to five nationwide centers of excellence, invests in community-based stormwater control projects, and promotes public-private partnerships in the design and construction of innovative stormwater control infrastructure. The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act creates a dedicated source of funding of up to $25 million to expand outdoor recreation opportunities in urban communities and to promote the development of public-private partnerships for such projects. In addition to acting as strong economic drivers, urban parks create dual-use spaces for both recreation and green infrastructure stormwater management systems such as rain garden
    • We also supported S. 3564, the Low Income Water Customer Assistance Act to establish pilot programs for low income residents to receive aid in paying their drinking water and/or wastewater utility bill and to help the utilities that service them; the bill requires EPA to conduct a study on the cost and best methods of transitioning from a pilot program to a nationwide program.
    • ASCE plans to work with Congress on reintroduction and passage of these bills in the 116th Congress.

    Recent Success

    • The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), or the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, reauthorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for three years at increasing funding levels, eventually rising to $1.95 billion in FY2021(P.L. 115 – 270, Sec. 2023) . It also reauthorized the successful Water infrastructure Financing & Innovation Act (WIFIA) for three years (P.L. 115 – 270, Sec. 4201) and authorized the Securing Required Funds for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act (P.L. 115 – 270, Sec. 4201), an important new financing vehicle for critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
    • Both the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) are subject to annual appropriations, and although they had received flat funding in recent years, the FY19 spending package provided $1.693 million for the CWSRF and $1.163 billion for the DWSRF.   
    • The 2014 WRRDA established the WIFIA program, a new mechanism to provide low-interest loans for large drinking water or wastewater infrastructure projects over $20 million. The FY19 spending bill provided $68 million for the program, which is $18 million more than its authorized amount. In April 2018, the EPA issued its first WIFIA loan to King County, Washington help finance its Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station; when completed in 2022, it will collect and treat up to 70 million gallons of wastewater and stormwater per day that would otherwise runoff into the Duwamish River. Here is a full list of all the 2018 selected projects
    • More than 92% of the population is served by 5.5% of the nation’s nearly 52,000 community water systems. The remaining population is served by small water systems, which frequently lack adequate funding. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Water programs, which provide a vital source of funding for these small communities, was eliminated in the President’s FY19 Budget Request. 

    ASCE Position 

    • ASCE urges Congress to triple the amount of funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) – the primary federal investment in water infrastructure.
    • ASCE urges Congress to fully fund WIFIA at $175 million over five years and the SRF WIN Act program at its $5 million authorization in FY20.
    • ASCE supports eliminating the state cap on private equity bonds for water infrastructure projects to bring an estimated $6 billion to $7 billion annually in new private financing.
    • ASCE supports water recycling, efficiency, and conservation programs where the needs of all interests are balanced. 

    Further Information

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