ASCE Releases Economic Study on Nation’s Water Infrastructure


ASCE is releasing a report today identifying the long-term consequences to the nation’s economy from failing to invest today in our aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The report is the second in a four part series of economic studies assessing the impacts of continued underinvestment in the nation’s infrastructure systems.

The report, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure, answers the question of how the condition of the nation’s deteriorating wastewater and drinking water infrastructure impinges on economic prosperity of American jobs, businesses, and entire sectors of the economy. In other words, how does a D- for water treatment identified ASCE’s 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure affect America’s economic future? The report’s results are sobering.

Water infrastructure in the United States is aging, and investments have not kept pace with the escalating costs. In fact, the report finds that by 2020, the US will have fallen $84 billion short of the investments needed in our critical water systems. Even with the increased use of sustainable practices and cost-effective development of other efficiency  methods, the growing gap between capital needs to maintain drinking-water and wastewater treatment infrastructure and investments to meet those needs will likely result in unreliable water service and inadequate wastewater treatment. However, if we close that gap and invest in our water infrastructure, we can prevent the following impacts by 2020:

  • $59 billion in increased costs to households
  • $147 billion in increased costs to businesses
  • $416 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Loss of 700,000 jobs

This past Tuesday, ASCE President-Elect, Greg DiLoreto P.E., M.ASCE, and chief executive officer for the publicly owned Tualatin Valley Water District in the Portland, Oregon area, introduced some of the report results to Congress when he testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee  on the nation’s water infrastructure. After speaking before the Committee, ASCE released the Executive Summary of the report in order for staff to have additional background on the upcoming full report.

Also this week, ASCE has held a series of briefings for water infrastructure stakeholders and Congressional staff.  ASCE will lead webinars for all members interested in more details on the report in early 2012.

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