Hundreds of Billions Could Be Spent For Upgrading U.S. Wastewater Plants

October 14, 2014

Source: The McIlvaine Company

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee recently heard testimony which makes a strong case that "Modernizing and replacing the country's aging water and wastewater infrastructure may be the single largest public works need that our Nation faces and it requires a serious investment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) most recent needs survey estimates $187.9 billion is needed today by clean water agencies to comply with the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Some of the wastewater plants in the U.S. were built more than 100 years ago. Some plants are keeping up with their aging infrastructure, but most are not able to do so due to inadequate funding. The status of upgrades is continually reported in North American Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facilities & People Database.

The needs combine upgrades and replacements. The upgrade need can be likened to that of an old automobile. Current technology can allow much more efficient and economical operation. Equally important is the need to meet more stringent EPA and State requirements.

Here are some of the cities which are making necessary upgrades or attempting to do so.

$52 Million for Torrington Wyoming Upgrade and Phosphorous and Nitrogen Compliance

On Election Day, November 4, a referendum is set for voters to decide whether the city of Torrington can bond $52 million for a massive sewer infrastructure upgrade this fall. The upgrade is the largest ever for the facility, which was built in 1939 and contains 163 miles of sanitary sewer lines. The last major upgrade occurred in 1968. The improvements will help the facility meet more stringent environmental mandates. The EPA has asked facilities to decrease the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen levels in wastewater discharges. Failure to meet the regulations could result in fines against the city and a moratorium on new sewer connections.

$42.8 Million for Repairs on Bayshore, N.J. Wastewater Plant

The Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority (BRSA) will begin a $42.8 million project for restoration and mitigation of buildings and machinery damaged during superstorm Sandy at its wastewater treatment plant. During Sandy, the 14-acre facility was inundated with three feet of water from the Raritan Bay.

King County, Washington Sewer Overflow Project could Cost $2.6 Billion

A King County auditor's report found that a combined sewage overflow project originally priced at $711 million could now cost ratepayers $2.6 billion. The Wastewater Treatment Division plans to build nine new facilities to hold and treat storm water and sewage by 2030. The clean water is released into local waterways like the Duwamish River, Puget Sound and Lake Washington. The county is halting the project for three months until there is a better explanation of the cost differences.

Read the full Hundreds of Billions Could Be Spent For Upgrading U.S. Wastewater Plants article.

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