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U.S. Wastewater and Sewage Industry - Statistics & Facts

Wastewater is any water than has been used and contaminated by human activity. This can include domestic water use such as flushing toilets and washing clothes, as well as industrial and commercial water use and stormwater runoff. This waste ends up at wastewater treatment plants where it goes through numerous processes until it is clean enough to be safely released back into the environment. Since the early 1970s, effluent water quality in the United States has improved through Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs), and through investments contrived by the Clean Water Act.

However, the U.S. is currently in the midst of a water crisis. Much of the existing wastewater infrastructure is deteriorating and in need of repair or replacement. Business assets have an average service life, but the useful life of water infrastructure components are coming to an end or have already reached it. The United States is connected by hundreds of miles of sewage pipes, but as they age it increases the likelihood of issues such as leaks. On average, 240,000 water main breaks occur each year, resulting in billions of dollars’ worth of treated water being lost. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the U.S. wastewater infrastructure a D+, (poor, and at risk), with heavy investment needed to remedy the problems.

As the world’s biggest economy, it is expected that clean drinking water should be a given in the United States. However, outdated treatment plants with leaking pipes can result in harmful toxins and chemicals contaminating drinking water. One major incident occurred in Fort Lauderdale between December 2019 and February 2020. Aging infrastructure was responsible for approximately 230 million gallons of sewage spilling into waterways. There are growing concerns about drinking water in the United States, especially since the Flint, Michigan water scandal.

The aging and deteriorating water infrastructure is also responsible for rising water bills across the country. Water bills in U.S. cities have, in some instances, increased by more than 100 percent in just 10 years. This has left thousands of Americans with unaffordable bills.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 32 most important statistics relating to "U.S. Wastewater and Sewage Industry".


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