Water Week & Earth Day: America’s Water Needs


This week, people around the world are advocating for access to clean water, cleaning up local rivers, and doing their part to conserve water in honor of Water Week, which was April 15-21 and Earth Day on April 22. In Washington, D.C. this week’s Water Week Fly-In event brought together a number of water advocacy groups to support increased investment in water-related infrastructure. In the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, engineers analyzed America’s drinking water and assigned it a “D ”grade, noting that to fix our water infrastructure, it’s going to cost $105 billion in the next 10 years. What can we do to improve this nearly-failing score, and exactly how much will it cost us?

Grading Drinking Water Infrastructure

There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks occurring each year in America’s one million miles of pipes. Many of the million miles of drinking water pipes that run throughout our country were laid in the early to mid-20th century, which means they are approaching or have surpassed their 75 to 100-year life span. These aging, leaky pipes cause us to lose nearly six billion gallons of treated drinking water, wasting enough water that to support 15 million households!

The Cost of Fixing Our Infrastructure

Although the general quality of the country’s drinking water is good, we can’t afford to lose treated freshwater due to aging infrastructure. Through 2025 our needs total $150 billion, and only about $45 billion is account for, leaving a $105 billion funding deficit. Outdated water infrastructure will cost the $896 billion in business sales and $508 billion in GDP by 2025.

Learn More

For more information on how Americans feel about our country’s drinking water infrastructure, take a look at this poll from the Value of Water. For more information on our drinking water infrastructure and investment needs, read the drinking water chapter of the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. To learn about how California residents are doing their part to recycle water, read about the Guinness World Record recently set by the Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District.

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