Legislation to help lower the cost of repairing our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure was signed into law by the president June 10, 2014. The provision to create a five-year Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA) pilot program is part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. WIFIA will provide communities with low-interest federal loans for their large water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
“Approval of this legislation is the first step in providing our communities with the funds they need to repair our nation’s aging water and wastewater infrastructure,” said AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company President and CEO Van L. Richey.
Approximately 240,000 water main breaks occur each year in the U.S., according to the ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The grade given to our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure was a D, which indicates many parts of our systems are approaching the end of their service life. The report noted that although the quality of drinking water in the U.S. remains universally high, we must address these infrastructure needs now to ensure the reliability of our water systems and the safety of our water.
Similar findings were published in the AWWA 2012 report, “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge.” The AWWA report showed that more than $1 trillion was needed over the next 25 years to repair and expand existing U.S. drinking water infrastructure. AWWA estimates that more than one million miles of water mains are in service across the U.S.
Although cast iron pipe has an average lifespan of between 75 and 100 years, most of our current water and wastewater infrastructure was installed more than 100 years ago. More than 600 utilities in the U.S. and Canada have had cast iron mains in continuous service for more than 100 years, and at least 23 utilities have had cast iron pipe in continuous service for more than 150 years. The successor to cast iron, ductile iron pipe is an equally durable, environmentally-friendly product made from recycled scrap materials that is designed to last for decades.
Ductile iron pipe is also the SMaRT choice for infrastructure development. SMaRT certified products are rated on product sustainability by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability, and ductile iron pipe received the sustainable “gold” rating. This rating is based on numerous criteria including environmental safety, energy reduction and use of recycled materials.
To learn more about the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA), visit http://www.awwa.org/legislation-regulation/issues/infrastructure-financing.aspx
For more information on the ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, visit http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org.