Water Infrastructure Deterioration Will Cost Us Much More in the Future
A new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Value of Water Campaign finds our water infrastructure costs – those that keep our 50,000 drinking water systems working to provide clean water flowing to our houses and places of business – could be seven times higher in 20 years than they are now, as our infrastructure deteriorates and we experience more service disruptions.
The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure: How a Failure to Act Would Affect the US Economic Recovery, released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Value of Water Campaign, found that America is underinvesting in its water infrastructure. This isn’t news. The ASCE releases a report card evaluating America’s infrastructure every four years. In its last report card in 2017, water infrastructure received a D grade as the American Water Works Association reported that it would take an estimated $1 trillion to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years.
What’s new is the estimate of how much more it will cost to fix damage from water leaks and service disruptions in the future if we continue to ignore our deteriorating systems. The authors found that putting off improvements for 20 years will drive up the costs seven times higher – from $2 billion estimated in 2019 to $14 billion estimated for 2039.
“As a nation, we have put off crucial investment our vital water resources for too long and we’re seeing the results play out now. The 2019 investment gap…outlined in this report has held back businesses, hurt American pocketbooks and threatened public safety.”ASCE President K.N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E.
Service disruptions caused by damage and flooding from increasing storms, in addition to water shutoffs and deteriorating infrastructure, will cost businesses an estimated $116 billion by 2029 and will soar to $264 billion by 2039. This will affect production costs for businesses and, in turn, consumer pricing. Investment in water infrastructure, notes the study authors, could provide a path to economic recovery from the pandemic, leading to a brighter future.
“If investment is increased to address these shortfalls now, the US GDP would grow by $4.5 trillion in 20 years. This investment would create 800,000 new jobs and household disposable income would rise by more than $2,000 per household.
Part of what makes this country great is our ability to look into the future and see what’s possible. If the new administration wants to make America great, investing in water infrastructure seems like a great way to help ensure that all Americans have what they need to be great.