To continue to ensure safe drinking water, the nation's water utilities will need to make an estimated $277 billion in investments over the next 20 years, according to EPA's third Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. This large national need reflects the challenges confronting water utilities as they deal with aging infrastructures that were constructed 50 to 100 years ago in many cases.
"Water infrastructure is a lifeline for community health and prosperity," said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for the Office of Water. "As our communities grow, so too must the commitment of the government and citizens to sustainable financing, innovative management and technology, and efficient use of water."
Water utilities pay for infrastructure using revenue from rates charged to customers and may finance large projects using loans or bonds. State and federal funding programs, such as EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, are also available to help companies address their water system infrastructure needs.
Results from the Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment are used to develop a formula to distribute Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants. Since the program began in 1997, EPA has made available nearly $8 billion in funding to states for infrastructure projects to help utilities provide safe drinking water. States supplement their EPA grants by matching funds and with bonds, repayments and interest earnings.
The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to conduct the assessment every four years. This report to Congress, which reflects data collected in 2003, documents anticipated costs for repairs and replacement of transmission and distribution pipes, storage and treatment equipment, and projects that are necessary to deliver safe supplies of drinking water.
The report and related materials are available at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/needssurvey/ .