Challenge and Opportunity


Our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure is at risk. Here are the challenges we face:

  • 1.7 trillion: The number of gallons of drinking water we lose every year to faulty, aging, or leaky pipes. When you add in leakage from sewer and stormwater pipes, that number rises to 6 trillion gallons.
  • 237,600: The number of water main breaks every year in the US. That’s 700 a day, and almost one every two minutes.
  • 47 years: The average age of our pipes. Pipes in urban centers are often older— Philadelphia’s pipes average an age of 78 years; Washington D.C.’s average 77 years; New York’s average 76 years.
  • D: The grade U.S. drinking water and wastewater infrastructure receive from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
  • $4.8 trillion: What we need to invest over the next twenty years to keep our water and wastewater systems in a state of good repair. Storm water systems will require an addition $298 billion over the next 20 years.


All of these challenges offer opportunity. Investing in our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure creates jobs, grows the economy, and builds a stronger America. Here’s how we all can gain:

  • $524 billion: The economic contribution of 30 large water and wastewater utilities over the next decade.
  • 289,000: The number of jobs that 30 large water and wastewater utilities will support over the next decade.
  • 16: The number of jobs supported in the economy from $1 million of direct investment in water. This is on par with investment in military spending, clean energy, transportation and health care.
  • 1/3: The percentage of current water sector employees eligible for retirement. Utilities are actively recruiting and training new workers to fill these employment opportunities.