Water supply and sanitation in the United States

Water supply and sanitation in the United States is provided by towns and cities, public utilities that span several jurisdictions and rural cooperatives. About 15 million Americans are served by their own wells. Public water supply and sanitation systems are regulated by state-level regulatory commissions and the EPA. Water consumption in the U.S. is the highest in the world and water tariffs (rates) are the lowest in developed world.


Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (2004) [ [http://www.wssinfo.org/en/welcome.html WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP)] ] Access to improved water supply and sanitation in the United States is universal. However, access to improved sanitation is provided through different technologies depending on local circumstances. 83% of households are served by sewers (95% in urban areas and 33% in rural areas) and the remainder is served by on-site sanitation systems such as septic tanks. [ [http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/USA_san.pdf WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program Sanitation] ]

Water use

According to a 1999 study by the AWWA Research Foundation residential end use of water in the United States is equivalent to more than 1 billion glasses of tap water per day. [ American Waterworks Association Research Foundation (AWWARF), [http://www.awwa.org/advocacy/pressroom/STUDY.cfm Residential End Uses of Water] , 1999. The study covered 1,188 households in 14 cities over 3 years. ] According to the same study 58% of water is used outdoors (gardening, swimming pools) and 42% indoors. Other sources indicate that outdoor use is only 25% of total residential water use. [ World Bank, International Trends in Water Pricing and Use, 2000 at [http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/mna/mena.nsf/0/2421f467c2c0262685256951006660e9/$FILE/Riyadh-Final.ppt#273,17,Per-Capita Water Consumption in the United States (lcd) World Bank] ] . Daily "indoor" per capita water use in a typical single family home is 69.3 gallons (260 litres). Overall use falls into the following categories:
* body cleanliness:
** Toilets - 26.7%
** Baths - 1.7%
** Showers - 16.8%
* washing:
** Clothes Washers - 21.7%
** Dishwashers - 1.4%
* Faucets - 15.7%
* Leaks - 12.7%
* Other Domestic Uses - 2.2%

These figures do not include water use in offices and commercial establishments, which is significant. Overall, per capital water use in the United States is about twice as high as in Europe (see water use in France, water use in Germany and water use in the UK).

Water sources

About 90% of public water systems in the U.S. obtain their water from groundwater. However, since systems served by groundwater tend to be much smaller than systems served by surface water, only 34% of Americans (101 million) are supplied with treated groundwater, while 66% (195 million) are supplied with treated surface water. [ Environmental Protection Agency, [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/pdfs/book_waterontap_full.pdf EPA Water on Tap] , 2003, op.cit., p.7 ]

Few U.S. cities pump water from sources clean enough not to require filtration plants (see water purification). The major exceptions are New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. [cite book|author=Committee to Review the New York City Watershed Management Strategy, National Research Council|title=Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy|publisher=The National Academies Press|date=2000|isbn=0309067774] These cities have water sources with a high degree of natural purity. New York City's water supply, for example, is fed by a 2,000 square mile watershed in the Catskill Mountains. Because the watershed is in one of the largest protected wilderness areas in the United States, the natural water filtration process remains intact and filtration plants are unnecessary. [cite news|title=2005 Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report|url=http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/wsstate.html|publisher=City of New York Department of Environmental Protection|accessdate=2006-07-19]

Impact of Climate Change

Increased frequency and intensity of rainfall is one of the effects of climate change that is already apparent in streamflow records in the U.S. from the last decades. According to a 2008 report by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies on implications of climate change for urban water utilities, the expectation is that more severe storms will produce more severe flooding which will result in additional water pollution from a large variety of sources. Chief among these are wastewater treatment, storage, and conveyance systems. Preliminary work by the EPA has confirmed that, for the most part, wastewater treatment plants and combined sewer overflow control programs have been designed on the basis of the historic hydrologic record, taking no account of prospective changes in flow conditions due to climate change. As a result, it is conceivable that water suppliers will face a continually increased influent challenge from sewage overflows producing high concentrations of disease-causing Giardia, Cryptosporidium and coliforms.

Many water utilities have begun to respond to the impacts of climate change through vulnerability analyses and long-term planning. Vulnerability analyses attempt to obtain a better analytical assessment of the possibility that current water resource development and facility plans could be disrupted by near-term (20-50 year) manifestations of climate change processes. Long-term resource planning adopts the broadest possible strategic view of how a utility can plan to cope with climate change over the longer term, taking into account environmental, socioeconomic and engineering factors. [ [http://www.amwa.net/galleries/climate-change/AMWA_cchange_Summary.pdf AMWA:Implications of Climate Change for Urban Water Utilities] ]

Service quality

There seems to be no comprehensive single source of information on water supply and sanitation service quality in the United States. Service quality of water and sanitation services includes such issues as drinking water quality, continuity of supply, pressure, the quality of sanitation services and the accuracy of billing.

Drinking water quality

In almost all cases water supply is continuous, under good pressure and in conformity with the norms of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which sets Maximum Contaminant Levels for pollutants. The EPA's Consumer Confidence Rule of 1998 requires most public water suppliers to provide consumer confidence reports (CCR), also known as annual water quality reports, to their customers. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html EPA:Consumer Confidence Reports] ] Each year by July 1st anyone connected to a public water system should receive in the mail an annual water quality report that tells where your water comes from and what's in it. Consumers can find out about these local reports on a map provided by EPA. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/whereyoulive.html EPA Consumer Confidence Reports:Where you live] ]

There are several aspects of drinking water quality listed below that are of some concern in the United States.

Cryptosporidium Cryptosporidium is a parasite that has a thick outer shell and thus is highly resistant to disinfection with chlorine. It gets into rivers and lakes from the stools of infected animals. Municipal water treatment plants usually remove Cryptosporidium oocysts through filtration. Nevertheless, at least five outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis in the U.S. have been associated with contaminated drinking water, including a well-publicized one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1993. There are no federal or state regulatory standards for Cryptosporidium in drinking water because there is not enough information on which to base standards. [ [http://www.vdh.state.va.us/epidemiology/factsheets/Cryptosporidiosis_Water.htm Virginia Department of Health:Cryptosporidiosis and Drinking Water] ]

Disinfection by-products. Disinfectants such as chlorine can react with natural material in the water to form disinfection by-products such as trihalomethanes. Animal studies indicate that none of the chlorination by-products studied to date is a potent carcinogen at concentrations normally found in drinking water. According to GreenFacts, there is insufficient epidemiological evidence to conclude that drinking chlorinated water causes cancers. The results of currently published studies do not provide convincing evidence that chlorinated water causes adverse pregnancy outcomes. [ cite web | url = http://www.greenfacts.org/en/water-disinfectants/l-2/water-disinfectants-99.htm#0 | title = Scientific Facts on Water Disinfectants & disinfectant by-products] summary by GreenFacts of the ICPS Environmental Health Criteria 216 | publisher = GreenFacts | accessdate = 2008-08-27 ]

Lead. Another issue of concern is lead in drinking water. Typically, lead gets into drinking water after the water leaves the treatment plant. The source of lead is most likely pipe or solder in older service connections or older plumbing inside homes, from which lead leaks into the water through corrosion. [ [http://www.epa.gov/OGWDW/lead/lead1.html EPA Lead in Drinking Water] ] In Washington, DC these concerns have led to a $408 million program carried out since 2004 to replace lead service connections to about 35,000 homes. The effectiveness of the program has, however, been put in qustion in 2008 by WASA, the city's utility. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/25/AR2008012502982.html Washington Post:Doubts on Lead Pipe Replacement] ]

Perchlorates. Perchlorates have been detected in public drinking water in at least 22 states. Perchlorate alters the production of thyroid hormones by the body, chemicals that are essential for proper development of the fetus and for normal metabolic functioning of the body. Particularly at risk are people with thyroid conditions, as well as pregnant women and their fetuses. One source of perchlorate in drinking water is the past production of solid rocket propellants using perchlorate, combined with poor disposal practices. Industrial accidents and agricultural fertilizers are also suspected as sources of contamination of drinking water by perchlorate. Perchlorate is also found in breast milk at significant levels, possibly attributable to perchlorate in drinking water and foods. [ [http://www.mass.gov/dep/toxics/pchlorqa.htm Massachussets Department of Environmental Protection - Frequently Asked Questions: Perchlorate] ]

The challenge of defining an acceptable level of perchlorates in drinking water sets two opposing groups with significantly different views against each other. In a draft risk assessment made in 2002 the EPA suggested that levels higher than 1 part per billion (ppb) pose a health risk. In contrast, the Defense Department contended that perchlorate at 200 ppb has no lasting effect on humans. Perchlorate is one of only four of the 70 chemicals for which the EPA has set public health goals that have a safety factor of 10, rather then the usual safety factors of 100 or 1000. [ [http://thyroid.about.com/cs/perchloratedanger/a/perchlorate.htm Perchlorate in Your Drinking Water.] How much is too much and who is at risk? From Mary J. Shomon, With Dr. William Cline, for About.com, March 18, 2004 ] [ [http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw000/contaminants/unregulated/perchlorate.html#questions EPA:Perchlorate] ] In October 2008 the EPA refused to set a drinking water safety standard for perchlorate, saying that "in more than 99 percent of public drinking water systems, perchlorate was not at levels of public health concern" using a benchmark of 15 ppb. The EPA encouraged states to set their own standards in accordance to local conditions. [ [http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/6A04819F9CC11717852574D7005F93F6 EPA Seeks Comment on Preliminary Perchlorate Drinking Water Decision - Agency Plans to Issue a Perchlorate Health Advisory] , October 3, 2008 ] In 2004 eight states had non-binding advisories for perchlorate in drinking water, ranging from 1 to 18 ppb. Only two states - Massachusetts and California - set legally binding Maximum Contaminant Levels on the allowable amount of perchlorate in drinking water, at 2 ppb and 6 ppb respectively. [ [http://www.mass.gov/dep/toxics/pchlorqa.htm Massachussets Department of Environmental Protection - Frequently Asked Questions: Perchlorate] ] [ [http://www.cdph.ca.gov/CERTLIC/DRINKINGWATER/Pages/Perchlorate.aspx California Department of Public Health:Perchlorate in Drinking Water] ] Environmental organizations have criticized the EPA decision not to set a federal drinking water safety standard for perchlorates. The environmental law firm Earthjustice announced that it would sue against it. [ Washington Post, EPA makes no rule on chemical in water, October 4, 2008 ]

Pharmaceutical substances. Pharmaceutical substances that are not regulated under the Act are an issue of concern. They have been found in tiny concentrations in the drinking water of several US cities affecting at least 41 million Americans, according to a five-month inquiry by the Associated Press published in March 2008. According to the AP report, researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals. [ * [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hGsoyElv4ZL879LW6z2aZS0Pix7AD8VA14500 "AP Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water"] by Jeff Donn, Martha Mendoza, and Justin Pritchard, Associated Press, March 9, 2008 ]

Sanitation quality

Sanitation service quality is mixed, and sewer backflows into homes as well as combined sewer overflows into creeks and streams remain a problem. Wastewater treatment plants are operated satisfactorily in most cases. Discharges of wastewater are governed by the Clean Water Act.

Billing accuracy

The accuracy of billing remains a problem for some utilities. Possible sources of overbilling are inaccurate metering (such as metering of air when a tap is left open during a service interruption and the returning water pushes air through the meter) and miscategorization of users in a higher and more expensive consumption category, if a single bill is issued covering a lengthy period and if the utility uses increasing-block tariffs. [ A particular drastic case was reported from Florida in 2007 where a single mother received a US$ 1,500 water bill after having been billed incorrectly for over two years without knowing it [http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2007/jul/29/30why-did-woman-get-1500-water-bill/ Why did Indian River County woman get $1,500 water bill?] accessed on Agugust 2, 2007. See also [http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=31174 Has Sten lost his clout?] , in the section called The Water Bureau blunder, for a brief mention of a similar problem in Portland, Oregon ] There are no statistics on the prevalence of inaccurate billing in the US.

Water users who cannot resolve a billing complaint with their utility are encouraged to contact their respective State Public Utility Commissions, which in many states have jurisdiction to regulate water utilities.

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

Service provision

According to EPA's community water system survey 2000 there are about 54,000 community public water systems in the United States, which are either publicly owned, cooperatives or privately owned. [ EPA 2003, op.cit., p.2 of [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/pdfs/book_waterontap_full.pdf] ] 4,000 systems provide water in localities with more than 10,000 inhabitants, serving a total of 234 million people. The remaining 50,000 systems in localities with less than 10,000 inhabitants serve 53 million people. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/data/pdfs/data_factoids_2007.pdf EPA:FACTOIDS:Drinking Water and Ground Water Statistics for 2007] ] Approximately 15% of Americans rely on their own wells as a source of drinking water. [ EPA 2003, op.cit., p. 18 of [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/pdfs/book_waterontap_full.pdf EPA] ]

89% of Americans who are being served by a public water system are served by a publicly owned or cooperative utility and 11% by privately owned utilities. In urban areas, publicly owned systems are either managed directly by towns and cities (such as in New York City) or indirectly by water companies (public utilities) owned by towns, cities and counties. In some cases public utilities span several jurisdictions, such as in the form of special-purpose districts. Utility cooperatives are a major provider of water and sanitation services, especially in rural areas [ National Rural Water Association [http://www.nrwa.org/ NRWA] and US Department of Agriculture [http://www.usda.gov/rus/index2/aboutus.htm USDA] ]

About half of American drinking water utilities, or about 26,700, are privately owned. Most of the private utilities are small, but a few are large and are traded on the stock exchange. The largest private water company in the U.S. is American Water, which serves 16 million customers in 32 states and Canada and is owned by the German firm RWE. It is followed by United Water, which serves 7 million customers and is onwed by the French firm SUEZ. Overall, about 33.5 million Americans (11% of the population) get water from a privately owned drinking water utility. In addition, 20% of all wastewater utilities in the U.S. are privately owned, many of which are relatively small. About 3% of Americans get wastewater service from private wastewater utilities. In addition, more than 1300 government entities (typically municipalities) contract with private companies to provide water and/or wastewater services. [ [http://www.nawc.org/about/about-qf.html NAWC-Private Water Service Providers:Quick Facts] based on the EPA 2000 Community Water System Survey and the Congressional Budget Office report “Future Investment in Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure,” November 2002.]

There are also a few large bulk water suppliers in the arid Southwest of the United States, which selll water to utilities. One of them is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) which sells treated water from the Colorado River and Northern California to its member utilities in Southern California through the California Aqueduct. 26 cities and water districts serving 18 million people are members of MWD. Another example is the Central Arizona Water Conservation district which operates the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct (CAP) which supplies water from the Colorado River to 80 municipal, industrial, agricultural and Indian customers in Central and Southern Arizona.


The economic regulation of water and sanitation service providers in the U.S. (in particular in relation to the setting of user water rates) is usually the responsibility of regulators such as Public Utility Commissions at the state level (see economic regulator). The environmental and drinking water quality regulation is the responsibility of state departments of health or environment and the EPA. [ For a list of state departments in charge of drinking water quality regulation see [http://www.naruc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=283 National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners NARUC] , accessed on Aguust 2, 2007 ]

Business associations

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) is an organization of the largest publicly owned drinking water systems in the United States. AMWA's membership serves more than 127 million Americans with drinking water. The association was formed in 1981. The Association works with Congress and the federal agencies "to ensure safe and cost-effective federal drinking water laws and regulations that protect public health." [ [http://www.amwa.net/cs/about_amwa/about AMWA] ]

The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) represents the private water and wastewater industry. Founded in 1895 by 16 small water companies in Pennsylvania, NAWC today has members in every region of the U.S. NAWC’s membership ranges in size from large companies owning and/or operating many hundreds of utilities in multiple states to individual utilities with only a few hundred customers, serving together 33.5 million Americans. [ [http://www.nawc.org/about/about-a.html NAWC] ]

Human resources

According to the Census Bureau, water and sanitation utilities in the United States had 41,922 employees in 2002. [ [http://quarterhorse.dsd.census.gov/TheDataWeb_HotReport/servlet/HotReportEngineServlet?emailname=bh@boc&filename=rev3.hrml&20071127090603.Var.NAICS2002=2213&forward=20071127090603.Var.NAICS2002 U.S. Census Bureau: Water, sewage and other systems] ] According to AWWA's state of the industry survey 2007, the water community in the US is faced with a swiftly-retiring workforce and a tightening market place for new workers. Approximately one third of executives and managers are expected to retire in the next five years. [ Gary Zimmerman, Executive Director of AWWA in the IWA 2008 Yearbook, p. 34 ]

Financial aspects

Total revenues of water and sanitation utilities in the U.S. were estimated at $7.4 billion in 2002 by the U.S. Census Bureau. [ [http://quarterhorse.dsd.census.gov/TheDataWeb_HotReport/servlet/HotReportEngineServlet?emailname=bh@boc&filename=rev3.hrml&20071127090603.Var.NAICS2002=2213&forward=20071127090603.Var.NAICS2002 U.S. Census Bureau: Water, sewage and other systems] ] The average American family spends $474 each year on water and sewerage charges. This is about the same level as in some European countries.

Financing is provided through revenues from user fees, debt and grants. Most debt contracted by utilities is commercial debt, usually in the form of bonds, in particular tax-free municipal bonds. The federal government has provided substantial grants and other subsidies, in particular to introduce wastewater treatment in order to comply with the Clean Water Act. The AWWA estimates that investment in water and sanitation will have to be "over US$250 billion above current levels of spending in the next 20 to 30 years" to replace ageing infrastructure.


Rate level Water rates (sometimes also called tariffs or user fees) in the United States are among the lowest in OECD countries. On average water rates were only $0.50 per cubic meter ($1.89 per 1,000 gallons) in 1999. [ World Bank, op.cit., 2000 at [http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/mna/mena.nsf/0/2421f467c2c0262685256951006660e9/$FILE/Riyadh-Final.ppt#276,20,Comparative Water Prices, 1999 (USS/cubic meter) World Bank] ] However, due to higher water consumption in the US water bills are about the same level as in most other OECD countries. The average American family spends $474 each year on water and sewerage charges according to the EPA [ EPA 2003, op.cit., p. 11 of [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/pdfs/book_waterontap_full.pdf EPA] ] . This is about the same level as in some European countries (see tariffs in France and tariffs in the UK).

Rate structure Concerning rate structures, about one third of water rates are linear (the unit rate is independent of the level of consumption), one third are increasing-block rates (the unit rate increases with consumption) and one third are decreasing-block tariffs (the unit rate decreases with consumption). Decreasing-block rates offer hardly any incentive for water conservation. [ World Bank, op.cit., 2000 [http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/mna/mena.nsf/0/2421f467c2c0262685256951006660e9/$FILE/Riyadh-Final.ppt#271,15,Trends in Water Tariff Structures (As share of utilities) World Bank] ]

Affordability According to a 2000 study by the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) quoting analysis by Hagler Bailly Inc., 18% of U.S. households paid more than 4% of their income on their water and sewer bill in 1997. The report states that the 4% share of income is used by the EPA as the benchmark to assess the affordability of water and sanitation rates. The study warns that tariffs could double in order to finance future investment needs if federal support for water and sanitation would not be increased. [ [http://www.win-water.org/reports/winreport2000.pdf Water Infrastructure Network:Clean & Safe Water for the 21st Century, 2000] ]


Financing is provided through revenues from user fees (see above), debt and grants. Most debt contracted by utilities is commercial debt, usually in the form of bonds, in particular tax-free municipal bonds. In the past substantial federal grants and other subsidies have been provided, in particular to introduce wastewater treatment in order to comply with the Clean Water Act. However, the share of federal funding has declined from almost 50% in the early 1980s to about 20% in the early 1990s. [ [http://www.win-water.org/reports/winreport2000.pdf Water Infrastructure Network:Clean & Safe Water for the 21st Century, 2000] , p. 2-3 ]

For about a decade different versions of a Water Infrastructure Financing Act have been submitted to Congress without having been approved.The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2008 would authorize the appropriation of nearly $30 billion over the 2009-2012 periodfor EPA to provide capitalization grants for the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program (about$16 billion for the clean water SRF program and about $13 billion for the safe drinking waterSRF program). This would result in a five-fold increase of federal funding for these programs, since in 2008 the combined appropriation for these SRF programs was only about $1.5 billion. [ [http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/98xx/doc9809/WaterInfrastructureFinancing.pdf Water Infrastructure Financing Act:CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE] , September 25, 2008. ] The Clean Water SRF has not been reauthorized since 1994, which has led to significant cuts in federal funding. [ [http://www.americansforpurewater.com/i4a/pages/Index.cfm?pageID=3342 Clean Water Council:Water Infrastructure Financing Act - Senate Letter] , May 25, 2006 ]

State Revolving Funds (SRFs)

The EPA and states administrate two major State Revolving Funds (SRF) Programs. Under both programs the federal government provides "capitalization grants" to states, provided that states match those funds with a contribution of at least 20%. Federal and state resources are pooled in State Revolving Funds, which in turn provide low-cost loans and other types of assistance to utilities. Revolving funds recycle funds and thus reduce the need for federal grant funding in the future. Several states have increased the funds available by issuing bonds secured by capitalization grant funds. These bond issues have provided twice as much funding as the grants themselves. Some time before 2001 the SRF bond sector received a AAA bond credit rating from a major credit rating agency - the only segment of the municipal bond market to achieve that distinction. [ [http://www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/cwsrf/progress.pdf EPA CWSRF 2001 progress report] p. 3 and p. 14 ]

The first SRF, called Clean Water State Revolving Fund, aims at reducing pollution. It finances not only sanitary sewers, stormwater drainage and wastewater treatment plants, but also nonpoint source pollution control such as erosion control and wetland protection and restoration. While most of the funds have historically been directed at municipalities, homeowners and nonprofit organizations are also eligible to receive funds. On average interest rates are 2% and loans can be up to 20 years. They can fund up to 100% of project costs. Created in 1987, the program has so far disbursed more than US$ 60 billion, or US$ 4.5 billion annually in recent years. In 2006, 21 percent of funding was channeled to small communities with populations less than 10,000 inhabitants. Eligibility criteria vary by state, since states are the main administrators of the program. [ [http://www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/cwsrf/index.htm EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund 1] and [http://www.epa.gov/owm/cwfinance/cwsrf/cwsrf.pdf EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund 2] ]

The second group of funds, called Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, was created in 1997 using the Clean Water State Revolving Fund as a model. It specifically targets drinking water supply infrastructure as opposed to wastewater infrastructure. A particular feature of the funds is that states can set aside a portion of their capitalization grants to fund activities including source protection, capacity development and operator certification. EPA allocates funds to states based on a drinking water infrastructure survey carried out by EPA every four years. However, every state is guaranteed to receive at least 1% of the funding. States in turn allocate funds to utilities according to a ranking that uses criteria established by law. Priority is given to eligible projects that:

* address the most serious risk to human health;
* are necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act; and,
* assist systems most in need, according to State-determined affordability criteria. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwsrf/frequentquestions.html EPA DWSRF Q&A] ]

The program has provided nearly $9.5 billion of low-interest loans between 1997 and 2005. At least 15% of the funds are directed at small communities.

Federal assistance to small communities

In rural areas, the United States Department of Agriculture provides grants, loans and loan guarantees for water supply and sanitation in small communities (those with less than 10,000 inhabitants), in addition to technical assistance and training. [ [http://www.usda.gov/rus/water/index.htm US Department of Agriculture] ]


Past investment. According to a report by the Water Infrastructure Network in 2000, investment in water and sanitation in the U.S. stood at about US$18 billion per year in the early 1990s (measured in 1997 prices), including US$10 billion for water supply and US$8 billion for wastewater. [ [http://www.win-water.org/reports/winreport2000.pdf Water Infrastructure Network:Clean & Safe Water for the 21st Century, 2000] , p. 2-3. Financing costs as well as operation and maintenance costs were estimated separately and are not included in these figures. The estimates are in 1997 prices.]

Investment needs. Estimate of investment needs vary depending on the assumptions made, definitions used and when the estimate was made. The 2000 report by the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) estimated investment needs for the period 2000-2019 at US$37 billion per year (US$19bn for water and US$18bn for wastewater), or twice as much as current investments. [ [http://www.win-water.org/reports/winreport2000.pdf Water Infrastructure Network:Clean & Safe Water for the 21st Century, 2000] , p. 3-1. Financing costs as well as operation and maintenance costs were estimated separately and are not included in these figures. The estimates are in 1997 prices. ] . The report cites more stringent federal requirements for drinking water safety and water quality and the costs of replacing aging and failing infrastructure as reasons for the increase. The impact of climate change on investments needs was not yet taken into account in this report.

In 2008 the American Water Works Association (AWWA) stated that investment in water and sanitation will have to be "over US$ 250 billion above current levels of spending in the next 20 to 30 years" to replace ageing infrastructure. [ Gary Zimmerman, Executive Director of AWWA in the IWA 2008 Yearbook, p. 34 ] . On an annual basis, this estimate corresponds to less than US$12.5 billion of additional investment needs for water and sanitation. It is thus lower than the WIN estimate of 2000, although significant increases in construction prices have occured since the WIN estimate was made.

The EPA estimated total investment needs in drinking water and sanitation at US$24 billion annually, brlemd down in US$14 billion for drinking water (2003 estimate) and US$10 billion for sanitation (2007 estimate). Specifically, concerning drinking water supply, the EPA estimated in its Third Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey conducted in 2003 that $276.8 billion would have to be invested between 2003 and 2023 (US$14 billion per year). This compares to an estimattion of US$ 165.5 billion only four years earlier when the Second Survey had been conducted. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/needssurvey/index.html Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment] ] One possible reason for the increased estimate is that the survey captured previously underreported needs for infrastructure rehabilitation and replacement. [ [http://www.epa.gov/safewater/needssurvey/pdfs/2003/report_needssurvey_2003_es.pdf Executive Summary of the Third Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey] , p. 5 ]

Concerning sanitation, the EPA estimated in its 14th Clean Watersheds Needs Survey of 2007 that investment of US$202.5 billion is needed over the next 20 years (US$10 billion per year) to control wastewater pollution. This includes US$134 billion for wastewater treatment and collection, US$54.8 billing for resolving unsatisfactory combined sewer overflows and US$9 billion for stormwater management. The states of New York and California have the largest wastewater treatment works needs, both in excess of US$20 billion. The District of Columbia has the largest per capita needs in the United States with US$ 3,670 per capita. [ [http://www.epa.gov/cwns/ EPA Clean Watersheds Needs Survey] and Water 21, February 2008, p. 4 ]


See also

*Drinking water
*List of United States water companies
*New York City water supply system
*Water purification
*Water quality

Internal and external links

* Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water Page - [http://www.epa.gov/ebtpages/watedrinkingwater.html EPA]
* [http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/ EPA Wastewater Permit Program - NPDES]
* American Water Works Association (AWWA), the association of water supply professionals in the U.S. and Canada - [http://www.awwa.org/ AWWA]
* Water Environment Federation (WEF), an association of professionals working on wastewater treatment and water quality protection - [http://www.wef.org/Home WEF]
* Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the association of the largest publicly owned drinking water systems in the U.S. [http://www.amwa.net/ AMWA]
* National Association of Water Companies - [http://www.nawc.org/about/about-a.html NAWC]
* National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) - [http://www.naruc.org/ NARUC]
* [http://www.win-water.org/ Water Infrastructure Network]
* List of and Links to State Public Utility/Service Commissions [http://www.naruc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=15 List of State Commissions at NARUC]

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  • Water supply and sanitation in the Dominican Republic — Drinking water quality Various factors affect the water quality in the Dominican Republic, including: poor condition of purification systems, minimal operational controls, low level of maintenance of treatment plants, and mostly intermittent… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Canada — is nearly universal and generally of good quality. It is a municipal responsibility under the regulation of the provincial governments, in partnership with the federal government. Water use in Canada is high compared to Europe, since water… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Saudi Arabia — differs from most other countries in three significant aspects. First, it relies almost exclusively on two sources that are absent in most other countries: desalination and fossil water. Second, given the substantial oil wealth of the country,… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Bangladesh — Even though the water supply and sanitation sector in Bangladesh is expanding its coverage, it is difficult to keep pace with the rapid population growth. The country used to rely mainly on groundwater, which is why the discovery of arsenic in… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Latin America — is characterized by insufficient access and in many cases by poor service quality, with detrimental impacts on public health. Water and sanitation services are provided by a vast array of mostly local service providers under an often fragmented… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Guatemala — The water supply and sanitation sector in Guatemala is characterized by low and inconsistent service coverage, especially in rural areas; unclear allocation of management responsibilities; and little or no regulation and monitoring of service… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Israel — is intricately linked to the historical development of Israel in the context of scarce water resources. Because the coastal plain of historical Palestine had few water resources, Theodor Herzl already envisioned the transfer of water from the… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Indonesia — Source: Calculations based on [http://www.publicfinanceindonesia.org World Bank Indonesia Public Finance Data Page] . All figures are in current trillion Rupiah for 2005.While it is not entirely clear how much of this sum has been invested in… …   Wikipedia

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