Federal aid for wastewater and drinking water facilities has risen 33% in 10 years, to $4.5 billion in 2000, but even when state funding is added, the total falls short of the sums the Environmental Protection Agency and industry say are needed, according to a General Accounting Office report.
In a study dated Nov. 30 but released Jan. 3, GAO says nine federal agencies, paced by EPA, provided a total of $40.6 billion, primarily in grants, for water infrastructure between 1991 and 2000. States contributed an additional $25 billion over that period. But GAO notes that needs assessments done by EPA and industry show much more spending will be required to address infrastructure shortcomings.
The report says a 1999 EPA survey pegged drinking water systems' needs at $150.9 billion over 20 years and a 1996 EPA survey estimated wastewater systems' needs at $128 billion over 20 years. In addition, the Water Infrastructure Network said the 20-year needs for both types of water infrastructure could be as large as $1 trillion.
The GAO report, "Water Infrastructure: Information on Federal and State Financial Assistance," includes a detailed breakdown of annual spending by EPA as well as eight other federal agencies.
EPA provided $22.9 billion , or 56% of total federal water infrastructure aid, over the 10-year period. Its annual funding climbed to $2.6 billion from $2.1 billion over that span, a 25% increase. EPA aid for Clean Water State Revolving Funds are the largest type of assistance from the agency, at $15 billion over the 10 years.
The second-largest contributor was the Agriculture Dept.'s Rural Utilities Service, which provided $11.5 billion in loans, loan guarantees and grants over the decade. Its annual spending on water rose to $1.2 billion in 2000, from $835 million in 1991.
The third-largest federal source, perhaps surprisingly, is the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. HUD water and sewer grants totaled $4.1 billion over the decade, with annual funding increasing a relatively modest 12% in that period, from $381 million in 1991 to $425 million in 2000.
Other federal agencies' 10-year water infrastructure totals are: the Commerce Dept.'s Economic Development Administration, at $985 million; Bureau of Reclamation, with $701 million; Appalachian Regional Commission, $251 million; Federal Emergency Management Agency, $44 million; Small Business Administration, $26 million in loan guarantees; and Corps of Engineers, $24 million.
GAO says that states provided about $25 billion over the decade, including $10.1 billion to meet the matching requirements under EPA's SRF programs.