New York wastewater infrastructure rated ‘poor’ by engineering group

(UC) — Out of more than 35,000 miles of sewers in New York State, about 40% are more than 60 years old and about 10% were built before 1925, leading The American Society of Civil Engineers to give the wastewater infrastructure a D+ in its 2022 Report Card for New York’s infrastructure.

Aging sewer infrastructure leads to increased infiltration and inflow, broken pipes, clogging, exfiltration, and equipment failures, the report states. However, like many other aspects that the Report Card graded, including drinking water, public parks, dams and bridges, improvements are being made, albeit too slowly. The report says New York needs to invest more in its wastewater system.

“While significant investments have occurred, including $18.2 billion in funding since 1990 from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation through the Clean water State Revolving Fund and recovery funds after Superstorm Sandy, infrastructure continues to age and is in need of renewal,” the report states. “At a minimum New York State needs to invest at least $38 billion now to meet the current deficit and at least 10 times that over the next 20 years to repair existing systems, meet increasing demand, and meet Water Quality Standards. Additionally, approximately 25% of the State population is serviced by onsite wastewater systems, which are also aging and in need of maintenance.”

The report graded New York’s drinking water with a C-, mainly because investment has not kept up with demand.  The 20-year need for drinking water infrastructure is estimated at $44.2 billion, but water system revenue has only been growing at about the rate of inflation and most proposed improvements go unfunded, the report said.

“Increasingly stringent water quality regulations, aging water treatment and distribution systems – some over 100 years old – and reduced net revenue are just a few of many challenges throughout the state. Despite the challenges, water system operators continue to do an excellent job maintaining supply and meeting regulations.”

According to the report, a C is considered “mediocre” while a D is “poor.” Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

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