10 Water Policy and Infrastructure Realities

In celebration of Water Week in the United States, as well as World Water Day, as celebrated by the United Nations, Brookings has complied a list of ten facts about water policy and infrastructure.

2 minute read

March 22, 2017, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Hoover Dam

Steve Buckley / Shutterstock

"From the water safety crisis in Flint, Michigan to the near-disaster with the Oroville Dam in California, a string of water-related events have made headlines, and called into question the U.S. focus on keeping critical water systems safe and functioning," according to a post by Alison Burke. So it's fortuitous timing that Water Week has arrived in the United States, and that today is the United Nation's World Water Day.

The post collects the Brookings team's research on the matters of water, so the article opens the floodgates, so to speak, to a lot more reading. Here are the ten facts as listed, with the relevant studies, research, and details available after the jump:

  1. Water plays a critical role in the economy.
  2. The federal government only accounts for a small share of total public spending on water infrastructure.
  3. Geographic and political boundaries can pose challenges to water investment
  4. The cost of water is on the rise in many cities.
  5. There's a mismatch between water investment demand and institutional capacity.
  6. Only a handful of drinking water utilities in the largest cities nationally rank highly in water investment
  7. The private sector owns most of the nation's dams.
  8. 69 percent of the nation's dams were built before 1970.
  9. Climate change and water cycles are closely linked.
  10. Despite concerns over water safety and infrastructure, Americans have greater access to clean water than most people around the globe. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 in Brookings Institution

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