The U.S. stormwater sector faces an estimated $8.5 billion annual funding gap, according to a survey by the Water Environment Federation (WEF).
WEF’s 2020 National Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Needs Assessment Survey concluded this funding gap is a 10 percent increase over the funding gap identified in WEF’s 2018 survey. The 2020 survey is based on data collected from more than 800 systems in 47 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Municipal governments annually spend an estimated $18 billion to $24 billion on stormwater infrastructure and programs. Municipalities nationwide are already working to maintain water infrastructure, control pollution in waterways and protect communities from flooding.
“The stormwater infrastructure that is vital to the health of our communities and our environment is in desperate need of increased and sustained investment,” said WEF President Lynn Broaddus. “Stormwater infrastructure is an integral part of our overall water infrastructure and it is imperative that it be included in any infrastructure package developed by the Biden administration and Congress.”
In addition to the funding gap, stormwater systems cited aging infrastructure and increasing regulations as challenges. Stormwater systems also reported needing assistance with technical resources for financing, asset management and watershed-based planning.
Stormwater is one of the fastest growing sources of water pollution in many waterways across the U.S. Pressure on stormwater systems will continue to grow, according to WEF, as nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population shifts to urban areas by 2050. The issue is exacerbated by climate change that leads to an increase in droughts in some areas and more frequent and intense storms in others.
WEF supports increased funding for stormwater systems through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, new EPA Sewer Overflow & Stormwater Municipal Reuse Grant, and Water Infrastructure Financing & Innovation Act (WIFIA). Additionally, WEF continues to advocate for new federal resources and technical support to help communities access federal funding to build and maintain stormwater infrastructure.
For more information, visit wefstormwaterinstitute.org.