$200bn needed for US wastewater

Investment of more than $200bn is needed to control wastewater pollution in the US for up to 20 years, experts have claimed.

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $134.4bn will need to be spent on wastewater treatment and collection systems, $54.8bn for combined sewer overflow corrections, and $90bn for storm water management.

The 2004 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey was delivered to Congress this week, summarising the results of the agency’s 14th national survey on the needs of publicly owned wastewater treatment works.

EPA said communities across the country face challenges in sustaining their water infrastructure.

The agency is working with states, tribes, utilities companies and other partners in a bid to reduce the demand on infrastructure through improved asset management, improved technology and water efficiency.

“Water infrastructure is a lifeline for health and prosperity in communities across America,” said Benjamin Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water.

“EPA is working with our partners to promote sustainable solutions and help utilities and households save money, water and energy.”

The figure in the 2004 survey represents a $16.1bn increase over the amount estimated in the 2000 report.

EPA chiefs said the increase was due to a combination of population growth, more protective water quality standards and ageing infrastructure.

New York and California’s state governments reported the largest needs – both more than $20bn – while Florida, Illinois and Ohio each have needs in excess of $10bn. The district of Columbia had the highest needs per capita.

More than three quarters of the total needs reported were concentrated in 18 states. Twenty states each reported less than 1% of the total needs.

EPA will begin collecting information for its 2008 Clean Water Needs Survey next month.

Kate Martin

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