Our Nation’s Crumbling Water Infrastructure

Rain Garden in Lansing, MI | Patricia Pennell

Floods. Droughts. Sewage overflows. Leaky pipes. Failing levees. Unsafe dams.  America’s water infrastructure is crumbling and outdated, and communities big and small across the country are feeling the impacts.

In its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation’s dams a D grade, and wastewater and drinking water systems a D-, the lowest grades of any infrastructure category. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that the public health and environmental gains achieved since passage of the Clean Water Act are rapidly being reversed due to crumbling infrastructure.

Commenting on the current state of the nation’s infrastructure, New York Mayor Bloomberg said, “We under-invest, and we invest badly.” Clearly, we need to invest more to upgrade and maintain our failing water infrastructure. But we need to invest more wisely, too. We will make a terrible mistake if we simply rebuild 19th and 20th century water systems that are costly and inflexible.

Instead, we need a 21st century approach that integrates green solutions and helps ensure community safety and security. We need to invest in approaches that utilize “green infrastructure” as a first line of defense along with engineered structures that together can effectively meet multiple needs, at lower cost, and help communities and natural systems be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.]

  • Check out the many topics in the left navigation, and see our current projects in “What We Work On.”