Unless you’re in our industry, I’m going to bet that rarely (if at all) you think about what happens to the water after it goes into the drain. Water is a resource that we take for granted and usually don’t pay attention to until it’s not there or not working properly. When our drain is backed up at home, we hire a plumber to come fix it. But what about on a bigger scale? Who do you call and how much does it cost to fix the water, wastewater or stormwater systems for your village? Your city? Your state? You might find it surprising that the AGC of America posted an article to their website that cites the EPA estimating that $271 billion is needed to improve water infrastructures throughout our country over the next five years. This article posted by the AGC details the perceived needs and highlights the tremendous gap in funding to meet these needs. Vogel Bros. appreciates that the AGC reinforces the efforts made through our contractor associations to enlighten law makers about these critical issues and advocates for the much needed funding.

$271 Billion in Wastewater Construction Needed Over the Next Five Years
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Clean Watersheds Needs Survey, a collaboration between EPA, states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories to compile the monetary needs of treatment, transportation, and management of the nation’s wastewater and stormwater. The survey identifies $271 billion over the next five years needed to maintain and improve this critical segment of infrastructure and is likely to be a conservative estimate.

The survey reported the following infrastructure needs:

  • Secondary wastewater treatment: $52.4 billion to meet secondary treatment standards. Secondary treatment uses biological processes to meet the minimum level of treatment required by law.
  • Advanced wastewater treatment: $49.6 billion to provide upgrades so treatment plants can attain a level of treatment more protective than secondary treatment. Advanced treatment may also treat nonconventional or toxic pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia or metals.
  • Conveyance system repair: $51.2 billion to rehabilitate and repair conveyance systems.
  • New conveyance systems: $44.5 billion to install new sewer collection systems, interceptor sewers and pumping stations.
  • Combined sewer overflow correction: $48 billion to prevent periodic discharges of mixed stormwater and untreated wastewater during wet-weather events.
  • Stormwater management programs: $19.2 billion to plan and implement structural and nonstructural measures to control polluted runoff from storm events.
  • Recycled water distribution: $6.1 billion for conveyance and further treatment of wastewater for reuse.

EPA launched the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center in January 2015 to work with states and communities to identify innovative financing strategies for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. The Center recently established regional Environmental Finance Centers to help communities across the country develop sustainable “how-to-pay” solutions to meet environmental goals. This financial expertise and technical assistance helps communities make informed funding decisions for resilient infrastructure projects that best meet local needs.

AGC has spent decades advocating for increased federal funding for the state revolving funds, which target this type of infrastructure. The association will continue this advocacy to best serve job creation, economic development, public health, and environmental protection.