The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) released on May 8 a report presenting new research findings that confirm local government investment in public water and wastewater infrastructure and services has reached an all-time high in 2010 at $111.4 billion, compared to spending $7 billion in 1972 when the Clean Water Act was passed. Public spending on water and wastewater over the decade 2001 to 2010 was $864 billion.
Spending on water at the local level continues to grow at a faster rate than several standard national economic indicators. The rate of growth in public water spending over the decade exceeded the rate of inflation for both capital and O&M investments. Public water spending increased 60% over the decade compared to 37% growth in GDP over the same period. Cities face several challenges in providing adequate public water investments, such as: population growth and land development; inflation and erosion of city purchasing power; reinvesting in the aging water infrastructure; and, compliance with regulatory mandates.
The report expresses concern that the water and sewer rate increases necessary to provide such investments over the last decade are disproportionally impacting low, moderate and fixed income households.