ASCE Infrastructure Report Card reveals few bright spots for water infrastructure
WASHINGTON, DC — the American Society of Civil Engineers today released their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The quadrennial assessment grades the condition and performance of 17 categories of infrastructure – including drinking water, roads, levees, dams, and more. This year, stormwater was added as a category for the first time.
The grade reveal was moderated by Kristina Swallow, PE, Past President, American Society of Civil Engineers and Director, Nevada Department of Transportation.
The grades, compiled by 31 civil engineers from across the country, asses relevant data and reports, and consult with technical and industry experts to determine the grades every four years.
Wastewater infrastructure received a D+, the same grade as it received four years ago.
“On average, the nation’s more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants are functioning at 81 percent of their designed capacities, but 15 percent of wastewater treatment plants have reached or exceeded their designed capacities,” Rebecca Shelton, with Gwinnett Gwinnett County (Ga.) Department of Water Resources said.
Stormwater – a new category for 2021, received an inaugural grade of D.
“Stormwater utilities are on the rise in the country, with 40 states having at least one; but repair is needed,” Shelton said.
Stormwater is affecting water quality, Shelton added, as polluted water from pavement enters our water bodies.
Results for 2021 show a few bright spots.
Drinking water infrastructure, for example, received a C-; an improvement from the 2017 grade of D.
There is a water main break every two minutes, and an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water is lost each day in the U.S., enough to fill over 9,000 swimming pools, ASCE reports.
While the grade has improved, affordability, safety and resiliency to climate change are noted as areas of improvement.
“[This year’s report card] reveals that we have made some progress in restoring our nation’s infrastructure,” Kristina Swallow, PE, Past President, American Society of Civil Engineers and Director, Nevada Department of Transportation said. “For the first time in 10 years, the nation’s infrastructure GPA is a C-. This means that on average, our infrastructure is still in mediocre condition and requires attention.”
Of the 17 grades delivered today, 11 are in the D’s, indicating a need for increased funding for repairs, as the long-term infrastructure investment gap continues to grow.
“Over 70 percent of communities do not have a dedicated funding source [for these repairs, and] federal funding, though up in recent years, averages only about 250 million dollars annually. That leaves a growing funding gap of eight billion dollars each year.”
As a solution to this problem, Swallow said we will need innovative, sustainable, and cost-effective infrastructure going forward.
To learn more about the Infrastructure Report Card, or to watch the release event, visit https://infrastructurereportcard.org
Source: Water World