Sustainable Infrastructure – Failure to Act Reply

Unlike a fine wine, our nation’s infrastructure is not improving with age! This is made perfectly clear by a recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE ) report [1] that issued grades of D- for both our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructures . I don’t know about you, but if I brought home a grade of D- when I was going to school, that was the same as an F as far as my parents were concerned. Not only that, but a D- meant that I had better get my act together and focus on my studies or I would be in big trouble. Unfortunately, the D- grade from ASCE doesn’t seem to be having the same effect with regard to federal funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. In fact, a follow-up report by ASCE [2] released in 2011 indicates that these near failing grades are further threatened by a significant funding gap of $54 billion in 2010, which is projected to grow to a gap of over $84 billion by 2020.

Failing local infrastructures with a lack of federal funding means that local governments will need to foot more of the bill just to keep its systems running at a D- grade. Municipalities and purveyors will be looking to residential users to front a portion of the bill, but you can pretty much bet that they will be looking to the industrial users to pay a majority of the bill.

Water and wastewater are very complicated issues that involve entire regions, complicated rate structures, conservation, capital improvements, water rights, and water fights. Not to mention that the general public has a lack of appreciation for the most valuable and essential commodity on the face of the earth.

The issue of rising water and wastewater rates is just beginning. It behooves all industrial users of water to implement a water policy and aggressive water conservation practices to stay ahead of this issue. The less you and your supply chain rely on the public water and wastewater infrastructure, the more resilient your manufacturing operations will be.

[1] “2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure”, ASCE, 2009.

[2] “Failure to Act, The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends I Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure”, ASCE, 2011