Once every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers provides a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories in its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The 2013 water and wastewater report cards are in, coming in just above failure, with a D. Although showing a slight improvement from the disheartening D- in 2009, the new report is hardly favorable.
Studies like these continuously identify the need to invest billions of dollars in water and wastewater infrastructure over the next decades. And while history demonstrates that infrastructure is particularly important in maintaining economic growth, levels of public investment have been falling since the 1970s.
To solve our water infrastructure problems, we need to fundamentally shift public and water systems’ understanding of true water costs, and to clearly identify the expenses associated with sustainably treating, delivering and collecting water and wastewater for the long term.