Bi-Annual EPA Needs Survey

In its bi-annual report to Congress on the spending projections for the Clean Water Act, the U.S.E.P.A. says that, over the next 20 years, municipalities in the United States will need nearly $140 billion to build, upgrade and maintain publicly owned wastewater treatment plants (POTWs), as well as to control stormwater and other sources of polluted runoff.

The l996 Clean Water Needs Survey Report to Congress, just released, is the EPA's detailed estimate of municipalities' future capital costs under the Clean Water Act's state revolving fund, which provides federal and state funding for such projects. Of the total amount estimated to be required, $128 billion will be needed for traditional wastewater treatment works, including: $44 billion for wastewater treatment; over $10 billion for upgrading existing wastewater collection systems; nearly $22 billion for new sewerage construction; and nearly $45 billion for controlling combined sewer overflows.

To control municipal stormwater, an additional $7 billion will be needed, and $9 billion more will be the price for controlling agricultural and silvicultural runoff.

Nationally, the l996 survey shows that 72 percent of the total U. S. population, l90 million people, are now served by one of the over 16,000 POTWs across the nation. The survey projects that 20 years from the l996 survey, in the year 2016, 90 percent of the projected population, or 275 million people, will be served by about 18,000 such facilities, assuming a population projection of 305 million.

The l996 survey shows a continuing trend toward higher levels of wastewater treatment For example, in l996, nearly 28 percent of the wastewater treatment facilities, or 4,428 out of 16,024, provide greater than secondary treatment, the treatment level considered adequate to fully protect public health and the environment, compared with 24 percent in l992 and 22 percent in l988.

From EPA's Water Resource Center at 202-260-7786.