Water Infrastructure Needs and Investment: Review and Analysis of Key Issues

Source: Claudia Copeland, Congressional Research Service, January 23, 2008

Policymakers are giving increased attention to issues associated with financing and investing in the nation’s drinking water and wastewater treatment systems, which take in water, treat it, and distribute it to households and other customers, and later collect, treat, and discharge water after use. The renewed attention is due to a combination of factors. These include financial impacts on communities of meeting existing and anticipated regulatory requirements, the need to repair and replace existing infrastructure, and concerns about paying for security-related projects.

This report identifies a number of issues that have received attention in connection with water infrastructure investment. It begins with a review of federal involvement, describes the debate about needs, and then examines key issues, including what is the nature of the problems to be solved; who will pay, and what is the federal role; and questions about mechanisms for delivering federal support, including state-by-state allotment of federal funds. Congressional and Administration activity on these issues from the 107th to the 109th Congresses also is reviewed.

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