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Infrastructure Deficit Will Be $84 Billion by 2020

Craig D. Brooks, Executive Director

If current trends continue, $126 billion will be needed for drinking water and wastewater infra­structure by 2020, leaving an anticipated funding gap of $84 billion, according to a report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Moreover, by 2040, the needs for capital invest­ment in water will amount to $195 billion, and the funding gap will have escalated to $144 billion unless funding strategies to address the gap are implemented in the coming years.

The report, “Failure to Act: The Impact of Current In­frastructure Investment on America’s Economic Future”, is the fifth and final report in the ASCE series.

According to the report, an $84 billion deficit for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure could lead to $206 billion in increased costs for businesses between now and 2020.

In the worst case scenario, nearly 700,000 jobs would be lost in the United States by 2020, and if the deficit is not addressed by 2040, 1.4 million jobs could be at risk in addition to what is otherwise anticipated for that year.

The impacts on jobs are a result of costs to busi­nesses and households managing unreliable water delivery and wastewater treatment services, and will be spread throughout the economy. Regarding all infrastructure, investment gaps will total $1.1 trillion by 2020 and $4.7 trillion by 2040.

By 2020, the United States will have lost over $400 billion in gross domestic product, while cumulative im­pact through 2040 is expected to be almost $4 trillion, according to ASCE.

The most recent report on water infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers describes a growing infrastructure deficit and a corresponding negative economic impact

The report released January 2013 addresses the following infrastructure categories: surface transpor­tation; airports; inland waterways and marine ports; electricity; and water and wastewater.

According to the report, delivery of drinking water and wastewater services in the United States is de­centralized and strained. About 54,000 drinking wa­ter systems serve more than 264 million people, and more than half of these systems serve fewer than 500 people.

As the U.S. population has increased, the percent­age of people served by public drinking water systems also has increased. Each year, new water lines are con­structed to connect more distant dwellers to central­ized systems, which continues to add users to aging systems.

Although new pipes are being added to expand ser­vice areas, drinking water systems degrade over time, with the useful life of components ranging from 15 to 95 years.

In regard to wastewater, the report says that the United States has about 15,000 treatment facilities and 20,000 wastewater pipe systems. Although access to centralized treatment systems is widespread, the condition of many of these systems is poor.

Aging pipes and inadequate capacity lead to the discharge of about 900 billion gallons of untreated sew­age each year.

ASCE is scheduled to release its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, in which it will grade 16 infrastructure categories on a scale of A through F, in March 2013. The last report card, published in 2009, gave an overall grade of D for infrastructure, the same grade given in 2005.

ASCE’s current report is available at:


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