National Drinking Water Week marked by rates rise warning

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has marked National Drinking Water Week by warning that if federal funding is not made available to finance water infrastructure, water and sewer rates across the US will "more than double".

Urging consumers to support AWWA’s calls for increased infrastructure funding, the organisation’s Executive Director, Jack Hoffbuhr said: “Our water infrastructure is four times as large as our Interstate highway system, but because it lies mostly underground, its degradation has been invisible to consumers and the government. But without a comprehensive solution to this crisis, consumers will witness its seriousness firsthand as their water rates climb higher.”

Hoffbuhr cites recent reports that estimate that infrastructure investment by utilities is falling short by $23 billion every year due to treatment and technology upgrades needed to comply with increasing federal regulations (see related story). The reports suggest that if federal funding is not made available to help combat this shortfall, water and sewer rates across the US will “more than double.”

“Our national water infrastructure is critical to the US economy, our standard of living and our public health. We jeopardise all of those if we continue to ignore the systemic degradation of our water infrastructure,” Hoffbuhr said.

Hoffbuhr claims the water infrastructure crisis is largely a product of history. Much of the US’ current water infrastructure was built in the immediate aftermath of World War II and is now over 50 years old.

He adds that while regular utility maintenance has kept the infrastructure performing, wear and tear has begun to take its toll across the country. As the old pipes continue to degrade, utilities in many areas will have to begin focusing on replacing old pipe rather than trying to continually repair it.

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