The US wastewater infrastructure system has come a long way to become what it is today. But according to a recent survey, it is evident that much needs to be done to sustain it. Wastewater treatment has been around since the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 was passed by the US Congress.
There are 14,748 wastewater treatment plants present in the country. Wastewater removal and treatment is critical to public health, and the government has also put stringent regulations in place to reduce untreated releases. Because of the efforts devoted towards wastewater treatments, water quality has improved nationwide.
A survey was conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was revealed that the US would need to invest $271 billion over the next five years to keep the wastewater infrastructure system running and effective. The funds will be needed to improve virtually all areas of the wastewater infrastructure.
Seventy-six percent of the population relies on wastewater treatment plants for water sanitation. According to the EPA, since 1972 to 2012, the US population receiving secondary treatment increased from approximately seventy-five million to ninety million. The population receiving advanced treatment rose from about 7.8 million to 127 million. Those receiving less-than-secondary treatment reduced drastically from about sixty million to 4.1 million.
The population has been growing, and as the population continues to surge, new houses are constructed. Also, households have been switching from septic systems to public sewers. The pressure on the existing wastewater systems has necessitated the need for increased financial resource.
Funding the wastewater system has never been easy. The public does not appreciate the modern convenience associated with wastewater system, hence; it has also been difficult to communicate the need for increased sewer rates. Complying with the wastewater regulation has also been costly. This is because no federal funding is used to pay for operations and management of the wastewater infrastructure.
The US EPA identified some infrastructure requirement in its survey. They include:
1. $52.4 billion to meet secondary treatment standards.
2. $49.6 billion for upgrade of plants to attain higher level of treatment.
3. $52.1 billion to repair conveyance system.
4. $44.5 billion to install new sewer collection systems.
5. $48 billion to prevent accidental discharge.
6. $48 billion to implement structural measures to control polluted runoffs.
7. $6.1 billion for conveyance and further wastewater treatment.
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