Why GAO Did This Study
The nation faces costly upgrades to aging and deteriorating drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Frequent and highly publicized incidents of combined sewer overflows into rivers and streams, as well as water main breaks in the nation's largest cities, are the most visible manifestations of this problem.
A variety of approaches have been proposed to help bridge the potential gap between projected infrastructure needs--estimated by EPA as almost $335 billion for drinking water infrastructure and $298 billion for wastewater infrastructure--and current funding. GAO has conducted recent work on three of these approaches. In addition, GAO's recent work has addressed rural water infrastructure funding and economic recovery, as well as utilities' use of asset management, an approach to planning for and managing infrastructure costs.
This testimony is based on a body of work from August 2002 through October 2012 and focuses on (1) EPA's Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs; (2) stakeholders' views on creating a clean water trust fund, a national wastewater infrastructure bank, and public-private partnerships for wastewater infrastructure; and (3) issues in financing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. GAO's testimony summarizes the results of issued reports.
GAO made recommendations in past reports to strengthen utilities' use of asset management and coordination of rural water infrastructure funding. EPA generally concurred with the recommendations, taking action on some and beginning action on others.