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EPA reports $630B needed for U.S. wastewater infrastructure over next two decades

  • EPA reports $630B needed for U.S. wastewater infrastructure over next two decades
    Credit: Pablo González-Cebrián/SWM

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has projected that $630 billion will be necessary to upgrade and maintain the nation's wastewater, stormwater, and other clean water infrastructure between 2022 and 2041, marking a 73 percent increase from 2012 estimates.

This substantial rise in investment requirements is driven by aging systems and the escalating impacts of climate change. The findings come from the EPA's Clean Watersheds Needs Survey, released to Congress this week, which assesses the financial needs for wastewater treatment plants, stormwater management, pollution control, and septic systems across states and territories.

The survey, last updated in 2012, aims to guide the federal government and states in identifying funding gaps and necessary actions to meet water quality goals under the Clean Water Act. The 2022 report is notably more comprehensive than previous versions, reflecting the growing complexity and urgency of water infrastructure challenges.

“Protecting our nation’s waterways is vital for healthy communities. They provide sources of drinking water, support farming, power economic opportunities, and facilitate recreation and fishing,” stated Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. He emphasized that the survey's estimates are based on data from local communities and highlighted President Biden's historic investments in water infrastructure, which are positioning the country to better protect water quality.

Federal funding resources are available to assist communities and utilities in improving their water systems. President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law contributes a historic $50 billion towards water infrastructure upgrades, including nearly $13 billion dedicated to wastewater and stormwater management. Additionally, the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund has financed over $160 billion in infrastructure projects since 1987, and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program has provided over $43 billion in project financing since 2018.

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