Southern Water Infrastructure at Risk From Climate Impacts

A water main breaks somewhere in the United States every two minutes, according to an estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

1 minute read

April 21, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Large water pipe with brown water pouring out into dirt ditch.

JJ Gouin / Adobe Stock

Climate events are putting water infrastructure across the American South at risk, write Jonathan Fisk, John C. Morris, and Megan E. Heim LaFrombois in The Conversation.

According to the authors, “The American Society of Civil Engineers’ U.S. Infrastructure Report Card in 2021 estimated that a water main breaks every two minutes somewhere in the U.S., losing 6 billion gallons of treated water a day.” Meanwhile, the engineers gave U.S. flood protection infrastructure a D grade.

The American Society of Civil Engineers in 2021 estimated the difference between infrastructure investments of all types needed over the decade of the 2020s ($5.9 trillion) and infrastructure work planned and funded ($3.3 trillion) was $2.6 trillion. It expects the annual gap for just drinking water and wastewater investment to be $434 billion by 2029.

The authors note that because water issues are managed by different agencies and levels of government, “That can put different government agencies into conflict as disputes develop over regulatory control and responsibility, particularly between federal, state and local governments.”

The article points out that federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act is not enough to cover the spending gap facing many small and low-income communities. “Local communities, states and federal agencies need to reexamine the growing threats from aging infrastructure in a warming world and find new solutions.”

Friday, April 12, 2024 in The Conversation

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