Infrastructure at the Forefront in Disasters
It can be easy to forget just how important our water infrastructure can be, until a catastrophic event like Hurricane Sandy comes along and knocks these systems out of commission.
Some coastal areas experienced massive wastewater treatment plant failures, causing untreated sewage to flow into nearby rivers, and people living in flooded areas were cautioned to boil water in case of drinking water contamination. As the hardest hit communities in New York and New Jersey are working to restore these systems, the broad impact of Sandy puts into sharp focus the importance of our water infrastructure systems.
Even without a hurricane, many communities are facing challenges with outdated and failing infrastructure. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that national wastewater and stormwater management needs are $298.1 billion as of 2008. While our water infrastructure needs continue to increase, federal funding levels have been steadily cut. Although the State Revolving Funds remain an important source of federal funding, they will likely never fill the gap between water infrastructure needs and available funds.