This Week in Infrastructure: Water Infrastructure Incurs More Attention


Amidst the visible need for highway, bridge and pothole repairs, we often forget the growing needs of our nation’s water infrastructure.

According to ASCE’s Report Card, there are 240,000 water main breaks per year and trillions of gallons of water are lost each year due to “leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.” Cities throughout the nation, including Toledo and Philadelphia, are dealing with water main breaks and struggling to pay for the upkeep and improvements of their water infrastructure. In the past 30 years, Philadelphia has had between 439 and 1,316 water main breaks per year. These types of water issues underscore the need for significant investment.

To combat this growing problem, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) established the Global Smart Cities Challenge, which will showcase wireless networks’ ability to power every day solutions for large utility problems. Using wireless sensor technology, water utilities can proactively locate and fix leaks, monitor decreases or increases in water pressure and monitor video feeds which ensure security for critical water distribution infrastructure.

In addition to drinking and wastewater infrastructure, America’s waterways are also in need of investment and maintenance. Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), a group that advocates for modernizing the national system of ports and inland waterways, is pushing for more federal funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is chiefly responsible for building and maintaining water infrastructure. In a letter they sent to the House and Senate, WCI and more than 40 organizations advocated for increased funding to address maritime transportation emphasizing that, “we must maintain our navigation channels and inland waterways for safe and efficient freight.” WCI and other inland waterways stakeholders are hoping for successful allocation of WRRDA funding and sound use of the increased revenue to the trust fund.

Ultimately, water infrastructure needs just as much attention as our transportation infrastructure. Nevertheless, it is still critical that Congress work quickly to pass legislation to provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.

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