EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said, "A safe and adequate supply of drinking water in our homes, schools and businesses is essential to the health and prosperity of every American. The survey EPA released today shows that the nation's water systems have entered a rehabilitation and replacement era in which much of the existing infrastructure has reached or is approaching the end of its useful life. This is a major issue that must be addressed so that American families continue to have the access they need to clean and healthy water sources."
The survey, required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to be submitted to Congress every four years by EPA, was developed in consultation with all 50 states and the Navajo Nation. The survey looked at the funding and operational needs of more than 3,000 public drinking water systems across the United States, including those in Tribal communities, through an extensive questionnaire. In many cases, drinking water infrastructure was reported to be 50-100 years old. The assessment shows that improvements are primarily needed in: Distribution and transmission: $247.5 billion to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating lines; Treatment: $72.5 billion to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination; Storage: $39.5 billion to construct, rehabilitate or cover finished water storage reservoirs; and Source: $20.5 billion to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors
EPA allocates Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants to states based on the finding of the assessment. These funds help states to provide low-cost financing to public water systems for infrastructure improvements necessary to protect public health and comply with drinking water regulations. Since its inception in 1997, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has provided close to $15 billion in grants to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to improve drinking water treatment, transmission and distribution. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program has also provided more than $5.5 billion to protect drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
According to a release, EPA said it is committed to utilizing the tools provided under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to assist states and to better target resources and technical assistance toward managing the nation's drinking water infrastructure. In addition to Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants, EPA awarded nearly $15 million in funding in 2012 to provide training and technical assistance to small drinking and wastewater systems -- those serving fewer than 10,000 people -- and to private well owners to improve small system operations and management practices and to promote sustainability. EPA also works with states, municipalities and water utilities to strengthen the resiliency of drinking water systems against the potential impacts of severe weather events and climate change.