EPA: $1.3 Trillion Needed for Nation’s Water Infrastructure

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A new EPA analysis identifies $630 billion in necessary upgrades for the nation’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure over the next 20 years. The 2022 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey is the first update about the nation’s clean water infrastructure needs in a decade.

Since 2012, infrastructure needs have increased by 73 percent, driven largely by aging infrastructure and climate change. Stormwater infrastructure needs have increased nearly five-fold over this period, increasing from less than $24 million in 2012 to more than $115 million in 2022. Climate change is increasing frequency and intensity of storms that are overloading outdated stormwater systems.

In September, the EPA also released an updated needs assessment for drinking water systems, identifying $625 billion in needed improvements.

In total, drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems need at least $1.3 trillion in improvements over the next 20 years. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided about $50 billion in water infrastructure funding, meeting just 4 percent of those identified water needs.

In response, Food & Water Watch Public Water for All Director Mary Grant released the following statement:

“Climate change, corporate pollution and federal underinvestment are fueling a crisis for our nation’s water systems. This $1 trillion challenge cannot be fixed without the bold policy changes that will justly transition us off fossil fuels and invest in climate-resilient improvements to our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. The Biden administration has taken a step to restore federal water funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law but nothing less than a dedicated trust fund can meet the needs of our nation’s water systems. Congress must pass the WATER Act to provide permanent federal funding for water at the level that is necessary to ensure safe and clean water in every community.

“Among other provisions, the Water Accountability, Transparent, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act takes steps to remove contaminants like lead and PFAS ‘forever chemicals,’ directs grants to low-income communities to prevent water shutoffs due to unaffordable bills, and invests funding into an annual trust fund at the level that the EPA has identified is necessary based on the needs survey for water and sewer infrastructure modernization. The legislation would also create well-paying jobs every year that would hire and train from the communities where the projects are located.”
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