Building Sustainable Water Infrastructure
Water Infrastructure at a Crossroads
The U.S. has invested billions of dollars over the years to build an extensive network of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure to provide the public with safe and clean water. Much of the network of water treatment plants, distribution lines, sewer lines, and storage facilities were built after World War II. Some of that infrastructure is now over 100 years old.
Historically, investment has not been enough to meet the ongoing need to maintain and renew these systems. Over the coming decades, this pattern of underinvestment needs to change and practices put in place to sustain the water services provided by water infrastructure and utilities. Doing so is vital to public, economic, and environmental health.
Infrastructure and Investment Needs
While many of the nation's water sector systems have been working hard to move toward greater infrastructure sustainability, the level of renewal and reinvestment in the water sector has not kept pace with the need. This has resulted in a gap between the amount of spending needed and money available to support those needs.
The Path to Sustainable Water Infrastructure
EPA works with partners across the water sector and beyond to provide the knowledge and tools to make sure that the investments made in water infrastructure make it more sustainable in the long term. The goal can be achieved through strong infrastructure planning and management practices at water sector systems. Some of the key areas for action are:
- Water and Energy Efficiency - Ensuring that water sector systems adopt sustainable practices and technologies for improving their efficiency, reducing costs, and addressing future needs. Options to pay for water infrastructure needs.
- Asset Management - A management framework that ensures that the right investments are made at the right time.
- Wastewater Treatment Clearinghouse - An information-sharing platform providing resources on the cost-effectiveness and performance of innovative, alternative, and reuse wastewater technologies. The Clearinghouse includes information for both centralized and decentralized treatment systems.
- Alternative Technologies and Assessment - Using the best, the new, and the innovative solutions when investing in water infrastructure.