Failure to Act Report Paints a Dire Picture for U.S. Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the foundation upon which the U.S. functions. Good, sound infrastructure means a thriving economy. And a major component of that infrastructure involves the reliable delivery of adequate and clean water to homes and businesses.

But is our aging water infrastructure adequate and reliable?

The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report titled Failure to Act: The Impact of Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Futurewhich contained significant information about this very question. And the answer provided is not a cheerful one.

In sum, this report revealed a funding gap in the investment needed to bring our aging water infrastructure up to optimum standards. By 2040, the gap will grow to $257 billion. 

Of the economic sectors evaluated by this report, water is the most vital to life and can’t be replaced for use in our homes, for irrigation, in hospitals, and industries. All these require clean water. 

But our aging water infrastructure and the delivery of clean water is centralized and is overburdened. Every year more and more water lines are built to serve increasing populations, adding to the strain on aging systems. 

Not only is the infrastructure used for delivery of clean water aging constantly, so is the system dealing with wastewater. Every year, an estimated 900 billion gallons of untreated waste water is discharged into the environment due to aging pipes and less than adequate capacity. 

With the recent situation reported in Detroit regarding lead pipes and the consequent illnesses purportedly coming in that city because of them, calls for replacing lead water lines around the country have been sounded. The cost of such an effort would add $30 to $40 billion to the reported gap in funding. 

What does our aging water infrastructure mean economically in the future? A loss of 500,000 jobs by 2025. And a total loss of 956,000 jobs by 2040, unless the shortfall in funding is resolved. The U.S. will absorb a loss of over $508 billion in Gross Domestic Production by 2025 due to this shortfall and will get hit with a total loss of $3.2 trillion in GDP by 2040. 

This type of impact has the power to dramatically reduce the standard of living in the U.S. for years to come. And considering the cascade effect of deficits in this area on other areas of the economy, exceptionally serious consequences are to be expected.