You are here

American Business Water Coalition Report Highlights the Dual Impact of Extreme Weather and Underfunding on Water Infrastructure

American Business Water Coalition Report Highlights the Dual Impact of Extreme Weather and Underfunding on Water Infrastructure

Created: Tuesday, February 13, 2024 - 15:15
Federal & State Resources, Natural Disasters

The American Business Water Coalition (ABWC) recently published a report underscoring the threat to water and wastewater utilites from increasingly intense extreme precipitation events and other weather-related hazards. The report also highlights the risk of aging infrastructure and calls for a significant increase in funding by the federal government.

The ABWC report, “10 Extreme Water Disasters in 10 Days Shut Down Local Economies Across the Nation,” includes a list of water infrastructure failures directly tied to extreme weather events and business loss in major metropolitan areas across the country between January 14 and January 23. Over this 10-day period, the impacts of extreme weather on severely underfunded water infrastructure assets in areas throughout the country caused burst pipes and many U.S. businesses to cease operations. “Water shut-offs and boil water advisories resulted from water main breaks during extreme weather events,” according to the report. The report notes currently federal funding makes up about 5% of all nationwide investment for maintaining and upgrading water infrastructure. However, recent estimates reveal at least $1 trillion in investment will be required over the next 25 years to bring water infrastructure across the country to a state of good repair. As climate change continues to warm the planet, extreme precipitation events will occur more frequently, necessitating greater infrastructure investments as well as flood mitigation and preparedness efforts. Access the full ABWC report or read a related article here.

Utilities looking to enhance their resilience to flooding events can access a number of free resources. First, members are encouraged to review the EPA report, “Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities,” which helps utilities understand their flooding risk and identify practical mitigation options to protect critical assets. Members can apply for flood mitigation grants, which are administered by FEMA. Utilities can also leverage open source tools that allow users to visualize flood risk, such as FEMA’s Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool or its Climate Risk and Resilience Portal. Lastly, Yale Climate Collections has compiled a list of flood resilience tools, which can be viewed here.