January 2020 Vol. 75 No. 1


$234 Billion CAPEX Expected over Next 10 Years for Water/Wastewater Infrastructure

More than $234 billion of capital expenditures (CAPEX) are forecasted over the next decade to address aging municipal water and wastewater pipe network infrastructure. Precipitated by decades of underinvestment, municipal utilities are under increasing pressure to address deteriorating linear assets at a faster pace. 

According to Bluefield Research’s new report, Underground Infrastructure: U.S. Water & Wastewater Pipe Network Forecast, 2019–2028, pipe networks and associated hardware (e.g. manholes, hydrants, valves) make up 37 percent of total forecasted municipal CAPEX that includes water & wastewater treatment facilities.

The cost of managing 3.2 million miles of underground distribution and collection systems is escalating for municipalities. Water losses through leaks for U.S. utilities average 15 percent annually, with some cities, towns and communities losing more than half of all water pumped and treated for distribution to customers. Network expansions, particularly in high population growth across the sunbelt states (e.g. Texas, Arizona), will drive the lion’s share of new-build spend.

At the same time, rising costs to address these growing needs will continue reshaping the installed material types. Well-established, large urban centers (e.g. Boston, New York) will continue to rely on traditional, legacy materials, like ductile iron, while suppliers of polymer-based products (e.g. PVC, HDPE) will make greater inroads on the peripheries of existing pipe networks, where developers have greater influence on procurement.

The scale of investment required necessitates prioritizing rehabilitations of these aging assets and is expected to usher in more advanced asset management, such as predictive analysis. 

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