EPA Estimates Massive Funding is Needed Over Next 25 Years
The projected increase in public demand for wastewater treatment over the course of the next 25 years is estimated to require an additional $270 billion worth of funding to sustain. Federal funding is not substantial enough to cover the staggering costs that accompany innovation and construction that will be required to accommodate the number of households connecting the public sewer lines. In fact, the majority of the cost, upwards of 90%, is absorbed by taxpayer funds at the local level.
The federal government established, Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), has provided an annual average of $1.4 billion – but it’s not enough. While federal funding for infrastructure accounts for a significant portion of the fiscal budget, only 5% is allotted to infrastructure projects pertaining to wastewater treatment, leaving local level government to contribute an astounding $20 billion annually to maintain, repair, and build water and sewer systems – and even more for O&M.
As urban growth rapidly populates and new housing communities are erected in the suburbs, the pressure to build new lines remains elevated. An increasing number of rural residents are transitioning from outdated septic systems to public sewer systems. The combined demand to connect with clean city water sources places emphasis on the need to prioritize funding and manpower to construct new systems and replace existing outdated lines that may succumb to the expected increase in output capacity. Simply put, the existing funding is not sufficient to make completing the necessary projects possible. Billions of additional dollars are needed in order to move forward and ensure that federal regulations are adhered to.
Regulations are put in place to set standards of purity for recycled water, satisfying the need to protect human health and reduce the negative environmental impact that ensues in the absence of federal and state regulations. Unfortunately, the cost that accrues from maintaining such strict standards decreases the amount of capital investment potential and hinders future projects that are set to take place, postponing them or dismissing them all together. Per federal guideline, allotted funds are not to be used for operation and maintenance costs, emptying the local governments available funding reservoir. In order to financially support the infrastructure endeavors that are needed to accommodate a rapidly growing demand for public sewers, the federal government must allot more of the budget, or place a huge burden on taxpayers to absorb the costs.
While cost is certainly a concern in moving forward, the good news is that the recycling of wastewater and storm water is expanding our ability to innovate and overcome droughts, shortages, and delivery methods. Demand is driving the process of wastewater treatment forward – motivating facilities to continuously find new ways to adjust to the increasing need for new technology and new construction. Where there is a will, there is a way, and as funding becomes more available, the wastewater treatment industry will be armed with a plan inclusive enough to bring clean, recycled water to every community in need.
Interested in learning more about alternative wastewater treatment technologies? Contact us today.