Home\Advocacy\U.S. EPA Releases 2022 Clean Water Survey Highlighting Nationally Need for Investment in Water Reuse

U.S. EPA Releases 2022 Clean Water Survey Highlighting Nationally Need for Investment in Water Reuse

Date: May 17, 2024

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its 17th voluntary Clean Water Need Survey since the Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted. The report is written to Congress in accordance with the CWA and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021, outlining the necessary investments to meet CWA goals for water quality over the next 20 years. While the survey underrepresents water reuse needs, it illustrates a fast growth in water reuse demand. The addition of six more states identifying water reuse as a need is a promising sign for wider reuse acceptance and adoption.

The survey captured information from approximately 30,000 submissions from wastewater, stormwater, non-point source control, and decentralized treatment entities that have current or future projects that meet Clean Water State Revolving Fund eligibility criteria. The last two surveys were conducted in 2012 and 2008. Since 2012, investment needs have increased by 73%, totaling $630 billion. Nearly half of this increase is due to the inclusion of two new categories in the 2022 survey – non-point source pollution control and decentralized wastewater treatment systems. The report notes that the needs identified in the survey likely underrepresent the true investment that is needed nationwide.

The Clean Water Needs Survey defines water reuse as the conveyance of treated wastewater intended for reuse. The information reported about water reuse, therefore, is a vast underestimate, given that it does not capture investment needs related to treatment and other components of the water recycling process. Funding needs related to treatment for reuse are included under a different reporting category, advanced water treatment. Advanced treatment for reuse is not differentiated from advanced treatment for traditional surface water discharge.

Of the $630 billion needed for clean water investments, water reuse made up $7.7 billion (an increase of 3% since 2012) and was highlighted as a need in 31 states, an increase from 25 states in 2012. California, Florida Virginia, Texas, and New Mexico reported the highest increases in need relative to 2012. Only two states—Texas and New Jersey—reported a need for greater investment (a total of $200 million) in desalination infrastructure. The survey found the most common use applications for recycled water to be groundwater recharge and irrigation, with expected increases in other non-potable and potable reuse applications in the future.

Among the investment categories assessed in the survey, stormwater-related needs topped the list, with a total identified need of $115.3 billion. The combined needs of decentralized, secondary, and advanced wastewater treatment systems, including advanced treatment for reuse, totaled $224.9 billion.  

Read the Report to Congress Here. EPA will be hosting a webinar on the Survey on May 30 at 2pm ET.  Register Here.

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