EPA says $203 bln needed for wastewater infrastructure

A drain pipe empties into Jamaica Bay along the eastern shore of the Gateway National Recreation Area National Park in Brooklyn, New York City, August 3, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. needs to invest $202.5 billion in its wastewater infrastructure due to aging facilities, rising water quality standards and population growth, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

That is 8.6 percent more than the capital investment the federal agency said was needed in 2000, according to its report to Congress, with $134.4 billion needed for waste treatment systems, $54.8 billion for sewer overflows and $9 billion for stormwater management.

Noting that wastewater treatment utilities often use bonds and loans to pay for large projects, the report said that covering the costs will likely fall on utilities’ customers and local governments.

The environmental agency provided an annual average of $1.3 billion in grants to states from 2000 to 2004 for infrastructure to control wastewater. States were able to provide another $3.1 billion in funding on average each year.

The EPA is attempting to address the gap between funding and needs. The agency suggested utilities introduce water conservation, continually improve their facilities and rely more on rates than taxes to recover costs.

The report was based on data collected in 2004.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Jonathan Oatis