The crisis in Flint, Mich., has pushed drinking water quality into the forefront of national conversation, but problems with the Midwest’s aging drinking water infrastructure are not new. Plenty of lead pipes nearing the end of their service lives remain, and nonpoint source pollution from agricultural runoff besets watersheds and municipal water systems before ultimately afflicting the Great Lakes, Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.
States have taken steps to clean up their water systems and sources (several of which were noted in Stateline Midwest’s September 2015 edition), but the overall tab to modernize is tremendous.
At least $1 trillion will be required nationwide through 2035 to replace pipes at or reaching the end of their service lives, according to a 2010 report, “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge,” from the American Water Works Association.
The Midwest’s aggregate share (including Missouri) was estimated at $172.2 billion.