AWWA: Water infrastructure requires new approach to make the grade

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) today called on Congress and the nation's civil engineers to join it in developing an efficient, responsible plan to overcome the nation's multi-billion dollar shortfall in drinking water infrastructure investment.

Denver, Colo., March 8, 2001 — The American Water Works Association (AWWA) today called on Congress and the nation's civil engineers to join it in developing an efficient, responsible plan to overcome the nation's multi-billion dollar shortfall in drinking water infrastructure investment.

AWWA made its request in light of the latest evaluation of the nation's core infrastructure, conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which criticized the investment shortfall in issuing the nation's drinking water infrastructure a "D" grade.

"America's water utilities, elected officials and civil engineers all agree: drinking water infrastructure needs our attention and needs it now," said AWWA Executive Director Jack Hoffbuhr. "AWWA is eager to work with Congress and other interested groups to make the necessary improvements in the most practical, accountable manner possible."

In its Report Card for America's Infrastructure released today, the ASCE estimated that the investment in drinking water infrastructure falls short $11 billion every year. Without the necessary rate of investment, many communities continue to rely on water pipe that has passed its prime and in some cases is well over 100 years old. As pipes age, they become more likely to burst, leak or corrode.

According to the report, the investment shortfalls are a result of consistent underfunding of federal drinking water initiatives coupled with increased demands on water utilities' financial resources. The ASCE anticipates the problem being exacerbated by growing demand for drinking water nationwide over the next 20 years. To remedy the situation, ASCE recommended Congress fully fund existing federal drinking water programs and institute new federal programs targeted specifically to staving off future investment shortfalls to counter the current situation.

The findings of AWWA's ongoing research concur with the ASCE's findings on the scope of the problem and the budget pressures water utilities face, which led AWWA to call for a stronger commitment to water infrastructure investment from the federal government over a year ago. However, the Association's analysis also indicates that improved local management and more cooperative relationships between utilities and all levels of government must be implemented before access to any new funding resources can be optimized.

"Attacking the nation's water infrastructure needs will require a more unified effort from all involved," concluded Hoffbuhr, "AWWA intends to ensure those efforts result in plans that protect public health and promote economic sustainability for utilities and communities alike."

The American Water Works Association and its 57,000 members work to assure a safe, sufficient supply of drinking water for the people of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The group leads efforts to advance the science, technology, consumer awareness, management, conservation, and government policies related to drinking water. For additional information please contact Doug Marsano at (303) 347-6138, or visit our Web site at www.awwa.org.

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