The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today released its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The report, released every four years since 1998, evaluates the economic implications based on the existing condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure systems, assigning grades to aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, and wastewater. The grades are based on the current physical condition of individual infrastructure categories including; operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, innovation, capacity to meet future demand and fiscal investments needed for improvement.
This year’s ASCE Report Card gives the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of “D+”, a slight improvement over the “D” given four years ago in the 2009 Report Card. While our infrastructure ratings have improved slightly since 2009, at best, it’s still a marginal improvement over a four year period. The report findings show that in order bring our 16 infrastructure categories to an acceptable level by 2020, a total investment of $3.6 trillion is needed. Currently, only about $2 trillion in infrastructure spending is projected, leaving an cumulative investment gap of an estimated $1.6 trillion.
Based on projections for 2020 and 2040, the “Water/Wastewater” infrastructure is projected to see the largest investment gap as a percentage of total needs, falling 67% and 73% short of respective investment needs. This drastic underfunding of water infrastructure is going to have the greatest impact on customer wallets, requiring an increase in household costs for services to make up for the current lack of infrastructure investment.
As a public water service provider, this is a serious concern for us. At United Water we understand that investment in our water systems is not only critical to public health, it is also crucial for our economy to support existing jobs and create new jobs across industries and sectors that rely on a clean supply of water. Many of our country’s water and sewer systems were built during the post-World War II era, where decades of underinvestment and increased demand have pushed our systems to the breaking point.
ASCE President Gregory E. DiLoreto sums up our need for infrastructure investment best: “We as Americans need to be proactive in monitoring and taking care of our infrastructure so that it will be here not only for us, but for our children and our grandchildren.”