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America's GPA: D+
Estimated Investment Needed by 2020:
$3.6 Trillion

Water Financing Experts Share Ideas to Improve Local Infrastructure

July 20th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

This Tuesday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a day-long event in Washington, D.C., for representatives from the public and private sectors to discuss emerging finance methods for addressing deficient community water infrastructure. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy opened the day stressing the need to “start thinking about these [water resources projects] as investments, not expenses.” She went on the recognize the success of the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which has provided over $111 billion to communities since 1987 for water resources projects. Tuesday’s event included a mixture of expert panel presentations and follow-up discussions designed to address water infrastructure financing issues from a variety of federal, state, and local perspectives. The first panel of the day included municipal leaders from Jackson, Mississippi, and Atlanta, Georgia. The panelists emphasized the importance of seeking out new regional community partnerships and emerging public-private partnerships, like Atlanta’s Care and Conserve program, as ways to fund water-related projects. The second panel discussion included leaders from several federal agencies and departments and addressed the critical need for greater integration of federal programs supporting water infrastructure investment in economically disadvantaged communities.  Harriet Tregoning, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), lamented that while a person’s zip code shouldn’t have an impact on their basic quality of life water quality disparity is a tragic example of the social inequity that exists between communities. In ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the drinking water and wastewater categories both received “D” grades reflecting some of the challenges these leaders are trying to address. This week’s EPA conference shows agencies, departments, and service providers from across the country are trying to make changes, coming together to share the information, and make water infrastructure financing a greater reality for American communities nationwide, but there is still so much more to do. Find out what we can do to raise these grades. Written by James Kirk, ASCE’s Government Relations intern.

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Florida’s Infrastructure Needs to Keep up with Growth

July 14th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

1Impact of Florida’s Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the backbone of Florida’s economy and a necessary part of every Floridian’s day. The Florida Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2016 Report Card for Florida’s Infrastructure on Thursday, July 14. The report includes an evaluation of the state’s aviation, bridges, coastal areas, drinking water, energy, ports, roads, schools, stormwater, transit, and wastewater (see grades below).

Keeping Up With Growth

One of the key findings from this report is that Florida is growing, and the State’s infrastructure needs a growth spurt of its own to keep up. Recently Florida’s population has grown at a rate of about 1% per year, adding about 1 million people, which is the equivalent of adding a city the size of Jacksonville every 5 years. Some cities and counties are stepping up their efforts, but more needs to be done across the state by every infrastructure owner. The good news is that investments in areas like bridges and smart technology investment solutions seen in ports and airports are raising Florida’s grades. As Florida grows, investing in infrastructure must be Florida’s top priority to continue to be the place people want to live and work as well as attract visitors from around the country and the world.  

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New Jersey Infrastructure Receives D+ Report Card

June 16th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

NJRC logoToday, the 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure gave an overall D+ grade for the State’s infrastructure. The report evaluated 13 separate components of New Jersey’s infrastructure, all of which were given a grade based on the components’ condition, capacity, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.  The transit and levee components received the lowest grade of D-, while solid waste received the highest grade of B-.  The other individual grades were: bridges (D+), dams (D), drinking water (C), energy (C+), hazardous waste (C), parks (D+), ports (C), rail (C), roads (D+), and wastewater (D). Throughout the report, the New Jersey Section of the ASCE calls attention to numerous challenges confronting the state’s vast and diverse infrastructure, many of which are magnified by the dangerous insolvency facing New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).  Key issues concerning infrastructure in the Garden State include:
  • Of the state’s 6,657 bridges, the report found that 1 in 11 are classified as structurally deficient and the average age of New Jersey bridges is 51 years. More than 40% of the state’s bridges are expected to require repair or replacement in the near future.
  • No single agency exists to oversee New Jersey’s 126 miles of levees, despite numerous reports citing significant condition issues with levees across the state.
  • 42% of New Jersey’s roadway system is deficient, with many highways now past their anticipated lifespan. Deficient roads are costing the average driver $1,951 each year.
  • 213 high and significant hazard dams in New Jersey are in poor or unsatisfactory condition, and hundreds of millions of dollars will be necessary to repair them.
  • If the approaching insolvency of New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is not addressed, there will be no permanent revenue source for the billions of dollars of critical investment that is needed in the state’s bridges, transit systems, railways, and roads.
Mindful of the future, however, the New Jersey Section of the ASCE included in the Report Card three major steps to begin improving the overall condition of the state’s infrastructure:
  1. Establish a long-term funding source for the Transportation Trust Fund. This will generate the funds needed for highway, rail and transit projects.
  2. As evidenced by the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the state needs to continue to invest in resilient infrastructure that can better withstand severe weather events and limit the need for frequent, costly maintenance in the future.
  3. In order to address infrastructure assets facing delayed maintenance or replacement, the state must implement new technology and updated strategies to prioritize infrastructure investment.
The 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure was created as a snapshot of the present state of New Jersey’s infrastructure, as well as a guide for improving infrastructure in the future. Read more about the report, challenges facing New Jersey’s infrastructure, and ways to meet those challenges at www.infrastructurereportcard.org/NJ.  

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The High Cost of Underinvesting in Infrastructure: $9 a day

May 10th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

fta 2016Today’s release of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Failure to Act: Closing the Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future reveals that inadequate infrastructure is costing every American family $3,400 a year in disposable income. The economic study, an update to the initial series ASCE released prior to the 2013 Report Card, identifies the 10-year needs across 10 categories of infrastructure is $3.3 trillion, including a $1.4 trillion investment gap. The $1.4 trillion investment gap comprises:
  • $1.1 trillion throughout the surface transportation network including roads, bridges, transit, and commuter rail.
  • Electricity infrastructure requires an additional $177 billion.
  • The third highest investment gap is $105 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure. 
  • Airports, including the highly anticipated NextGen technology upgrade, require an added $42 billion.
  • America’s inland waterways and ports need an additional $15 billion to close their funding gap.
Our overdue infrastructure bill is costing us time and money. The report identifies the following economic ramifications:
  • $3.9 trillion in GDP, more than the 2013 GDP of Germany
  • $7 trillion of business sales
  • 2.5 million job losses in the year 2025
  • $3,400 in a family’s annual disposable income each year from 2016 to 2025, equal to $9.33 a day.
These findings underscore the findings of the initial Failure to Act series, showing the economic benefits of infrastructure investment reverberate through every sector of the economy, while the economic losses that come from deferred investment also become worse over time. Furthermore, the longer we delay the more likely we are to need to replace the infrastructure rather than repair it. America is currently spending more failing to act on our investment gap then we would to close it. Inefficient infrastructure is costing every household $9.30 a day. However, if every family instead invested an additional $3 a day per household, we could close the infrastructure investment gap in 10 years. By increasing the investment by $144 billion a year for the next 10 years at the federal, state and local levels, we can upgrade our infrastructure, and protect our GDP, jobs, families’ disposable income and our nation’s competitiveness.

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Closing America’s Infrastructure Gap

May 9th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

fta 2016

Failure to Act – 2016 Report

Infrastructure is the backbone of our economy and when it’s not maintained all Americans feel the effects, but what does that look like in dollars for my family, my business and the overall economy? The American Society of Civil Engineers’ new economic study, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future will be released on May 10th and will highlight exactly how much America’s infrastructure investment gap is impacting the U.S. economy and household income. The report quantifies how the failure to invest in our aging infrastructure impacts the economy, including:
  • GDP
  • jobs
  • personal disposable income, and
  • business sales.
Download the new report.    

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Water Week Highlights Diverse Needs Across the Country

April 13th, 2016 | By: Whitford Remer

Over 100 water and wastewater utility managers, operators and engineers visited Washington, D.C. this week to advocate for more federal investment in water infrastructure. Lead by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and several other sponsoring organizations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers  (ASCE) the week provided an opportunity for water industries to join together with a single voice and stress the importance of providing clean water services to the public and the role of the federal government. On Tuesday, water experts took to Capitol Hill to discuss federal water issues, including responding to the Flint, Michigan water crises, the need to increase federal water infrastructure appropriations and educate lawmakers on newly authorized but stalled financing programs such as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Water infrastructure has become a hot topic on Capitol Hill over the last several months as the story of Flint, Michigan shot into the national spotlight after that city was found to have exceptionally high levels of lead in its drinking water. Lead exposure is extremely dangerous to children. The crises ignited a national conversation about water infrastructure systems and the role of local and federal government in ensuring the systems are safe and well maintained. Other water issues from around the country discussed this week included alleviating drought in the west, managing combined sewer overflows and storm water management in mid-sized, sprawling cities. To alleviate drought, many experts have argued for investments in desalination, water reuse and adding storage capacity in western reservoirs. To combat combined sewer overflows, which the EPA recently estimated will cost nearly $50 billion to fix, some cities are investing in green infrastructure projects. Green infrastructure can help reduce both CSO and stormwater issues by mitigating the amount of stormwater entering a combined system, by letting the water naturally infiltrate where it falls with the use of bioswales and natural retention areas. Water week is timely this year not only because the need to shine a light on the crisis in Flint, but also because Congress is considering a range of options to address water infrastructure issues in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), slated to be marked up by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) at the end of the month.

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New Poll Finds Americans Want Modernized Water Infrastructure

February 25th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

Improve and Modernize_Natl Poll_FBOn Wednesday, the Value of Water released the results of a new poll that finds 95% of Americans believe it is important to improve and modernize our water systems. At a time when a water main breaks every two minutes in the U.S., 60% of respondents said they are willing to pay more for secure water service upon hearing the facts of the state of our nation’s water infrastructure. The new data shows that we must seize this watershed moment (pun intended) to educate people about the true value of water. Our water infrastructure is at a critical juncture, as much of it is past its useful design life. Both drinking water and wastewater received “D” grades in the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Americans top concerns around water include being able to drink straight from the tap and treating wastewater in a safe and environmentally responsible way, according to the survey results. Our lives and the economy depend on strong and reliable water infrastructure. This latest national survey demonstrates Americans’ understand the significance of our water infrastructure, and the majority believe we should invest in it.

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Can you hold your own on our infrastructure quiz? Let’s find out!

July 1st, 2015 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

“Test your Infrastructure I.Q.” is a quiz to help you learn more about our nation’s infrastructure. The quiz is a fun, interactive tool and covers 16 categories of American infrastructure: energy, schools, public parks & recreation, transit, roads, rail, ports, inland waterways, bridges, aviation, wastewater, solid waste, levees, hazardous waste, drinking water and dams. If you get a question wrong, you can find the answer and maybe learn a few other facts as well. What are you waiting on?  It’s time to test your infrastructure I.Q.! Infrastructure I.Q. preview 7.2

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Water Week Focuses on Efficiency Technologies, Aging Infrastructure and Value of Water

April 15th, 2015 | By: Whitford Remer

We are in the midst of this year’s Water Week, which includes a marathon four-day affair in Washington, DC that brings water wonks from across the country together to discuss trending water issues with lawmakers and regulators. The week kicked off with a presentation by Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It. Glennon’s message of how to build a sustainable water future resonated with many in town from the arid west, especially those from California, which is facing the worst drought in 1200 years. As an additional challenge, as illustrated by this map from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),the nation’s fastest growing areas also have some of the highest per capita water use, which will further strain water resources throughout the country. Strain placed on the nation’s aging water infrastructure, graded a “D” in the ASCE Report Card for Americas Infrastructure, can lead to serious measures, including rationing or higher service rates. Water Week attracts a diverse group of stakeholders, including the most well represented industry clean water agencies (utilities that treat wastewater). With higher demand on aging systems, strict regulatory mandates, financially stretched rate-payers and the threat of extreme weather, clean water utilities across the country are grappling with major demand, financing, capital upgrade and operations and maintenance issues. These obstacles are pushing utilities to find cost-effective and efficient solutions for treatment and to look for sound ways to best use their end product. For the first time in the history of Water Week, the Water Reuse Association was a major sponsor. The organization is the primary trade group for reclaimed water, which with minimal purification can be used for irrigation or with special purification can be placed back into service. As is almost always the case, much of the discussion this week came back to one theme: how to pay for needed infrastructure upgrades. Utilities can increase rates, rely on federal government loans, issue bonds or seek private funds. While rate increases are unpopular, many argue that we under value and under pay for water services in the U.S., a concept that the Value of Water Coalition is trying to change. For traditional finaicincing, the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program remains popular, but new eligible activities approved in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) means the competition for dollars will be greater than ever. Competition for SRF funds may be exacerbated if projects rely on the fund to round out project financing due to the current prohibition on tax-exempt bonds in WIFIA. It’s encouraging to see that when the water industry comes to DC to make the case for more federal support, they do so by showcasing a plethora of new technologies for water efficiency and plans to make their communities water cleaner and better for the environment.

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Virginia's Infrastructure Struggle for Status Quo

January 23rd, 2015 | By: Infrastructure Report Card

With a state that’s growing as fast as Virginia, you’re bound to have growing pains, but none are as striking or obvious as the traffic gridlock across the state. So, would you be surprised that the Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave roads a D grade in their new 2015 Report Card for Virginia’s InfrastructureVA RC? While some big steps were taken by the legislature in 2013 to bring renewed funding to transportation, may end up only keeping the status quo of transportation troubles across the state whether by car or transit. Another growing pain issue for Virginia is there are a lot of dams in the state (1,789 to be exact) and the number of people that now live behind old dams has increased with the growth of the state. The majority of dams were constructed between 1950 and 1975, making the average age more than 50 years old. With an increasing population, more houses and businesses are now below dams which means there’s more risk for damage and lives being lost if there was a failure. The good news is that Virginia has made a lot of progress in identifying and educating owners on how to fix dams that are considered high-hazard, but the bad news is that 141 of these high-hazard dams do not meet current dam safety standards, resulting in a grade of C for Virginia’s dams. Growth is also affecting schools as localities try to keep up with growing schools in some areas and older school maintenance in localities that seem to be losing students and residents. Not only is Virginia growing, but its infrastructure is also starting to show its age with basic services like water, wastewater, and stormwater representing the old infrastructure bones of the cities. Virginia’s 2,830 public water systems providing drinking water to more than 7 million Virginians, and the Report Card found that many of these systems are 70 years or older and require significant asset renewal in the immediate future. The bad news is that funding is slim – from 2000 to 2012, the state only saw $200 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which is less than 10% of the commonwealth’s total investment needs. Wastewater needs have jumped 45%, and best estimates show $1 billion is needed to control overflows that pollute local waters. Also, stormwater systems are equally old, and surveys show about one-third of the infrastructure is older than 50 years and much of the remainder was built 25 to 50 years ago. While every bit of funding helps, the reality is Virginia’s water systems are only getting older each day and each dollar available is being split between trying to fix yesterday’s problems and today’s. Growth and age are like a one-two punch to Virginia’s infrastructure causing a real struggle to maintain an acceptable level of infrastructure service for the state. Virginia’s C- infrastructure shows the Commonwealth is barely maintaining the status quo, and without significant change, it will be a struggle to maintain even the current gridlock of roads and frequent water pipe breaks without new solutions. In the Report Card, they give 3 solutions to raise Virginia’s grades: 1. Increase Leadership in Infrastructure Renewal: Virginia’s infrastructure is the responsibility of all our leaders. We need bold leadership and a vision for how strategic infrastructure investment can improve the current status quo. 2. Promote Sustainability and Resilience: Today’s infrastructure must meet the state’s needs in the best and worst of times, and also protect and improve the environment and our quality of life. 3. Develop Comprehensive Strategies: Virginia should prioritize and execute infrastructure strategies that put our investments where they are needed most, according to well-conceived plans that focus on comprehensive solutions that provide a good return on investment. The Virginia legislature is just getting started, and there is no better time for them to take a second look at the infrastructure they are responsible for than now with a fresh update from the civil engineers who work on the state’s infrastructure every day.

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