News Brief

Failing Water Infrastructure Drains Economy, Report Warns

Leaky pipes, poor drainage, and inadequate water treatment facilities present risks for both public health and the economy. Only medical services are poised to see growth--primarily due to an increase in water-borne illnesses.

Source: American Society of Civil Engineers

Aging water infrastructure could seriously imperil both public health and the economy if current investment trends continue, according to a new report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

In the second report in its “Failure to Act” series, the group lays out the economic consequences of increasingly unreliable water delivery and wastewater treatment, forecasting the loss of 700,000 jobs by 2020 and $1.4 million jobs by 2040. A GDP loss of $416 billion is predicted between 2011 and 2020. ASCE only foresees one growth industry coming out of the deteriorating water network: “medical services are expected to grow between 2020 and 2040 due to increasing outlays to fight water-borne illnesses.”

While neglecting water infrastructure could have dire consequences, the report concludes that worst-case scenarios can be prevented by increasing investments in water infrastructure, developing more sustainable water delivery and wastewater treatment methods, and changing land use patterns.

To download the full report, visit www.asce.org/failuretoact.

Published February 2, 2012

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