Water and Wastewater Construction: Continued Gloom or Future Boom?


The state of water and wastewater infrastructure in the United States is a much discussed and lamented topic these days. With funding needs estimated in the ballpark of $600 billion over the next 20 years, coupled with the economic downturn and reduced federal funding, the task of repairing our aging infrastructure seems daunting if not insurmountable.

The current condition of the water and wastewater construction market in North America is reflective of that sentiment. In general, the construction market has been hard hit by declining public sector demand, losing 20,000 jobs between September and October, according to recent data from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Further, the construction industry's unemployment rate hit 13.7% in October, well above the national average of 9% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With respect to water and wastewater construction specifically, potential budget cuts to the State Revolving Loan Funds paint a gloomy picture. While not yet finalized, the Senate Appropriations Committee draft bill provides $1.52 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds and $963 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds, in total about $1 billion less than in FY2010.

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