The following is a statement from Michele Nellenbach, director of strategic initiatives at the Bipartisan Policy Center, on reports of wastewater infrastructure problems in Flint, MI, this week:
“Once again, a very real tragedy for the people of Flint demonstrates how vulnerable many American communities are to catastrophic breakdowns of their water and wastewater systems. This couldn’t happen “only in Flint”—it could have happened in any one of literally hundreds of towns across the country struggling to keep aging wastewater systems online.
“America has a water problem. Our nation’s treatment works and water systems are failing and impacting our communities. All across America, we are faced with massive challenges to replace critical water and wastewater infrastructure. Capital investment needs for the nation’s wastewater and stormwater systems are estimated to total $298 billion over the next twenty years. Flint faces a problem endemic to communities across the country—unmanaged stormwater threatens the vitality of rivers and streams, while jeopardizing population health and local economies. As Flint knows better than any community, our drinking water infrastructure similarly is in need. The nation faces $384 billion in needs over the next 20 years. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. Our nation’s water problem is varied and is growing worse. We must act before the next failure in water infrastructure endangers consumers and consumes another American community.”
Michele Nellenbach is available for comment.