Mar 03, 2021

Storm Water Earns ‘D’ on ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure

This is the first year storm water has appeared on the report card 

Storm water on ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

The ASCE announced today its 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. 

The report card graded 17 categories, including drinking water, wastewater, roads and, for the first time, storm water. 

For its inaugural appearance on the Infrastructure Report Card, storm water has received a D.

According to the Infrastructure Report Card website and storm water report, “with few dedicated funding sources, complicated governance and ownership structures, expansive networks of aging assets, increasingly stringent water quality regulations, and concerning climate change projections, the expected performance of storm water systems is declining.”

The other water categories include wastewater, which received a D+ and drinking water, which received a C-.  Rebecca Shelton, a report card committee member, said during the live announcement that 16,000 wastewater plants function at 81% of capacity but 15% have reached or exceeded capacity. 

Shelton also said that while storm water utilities are on the rise –  more than 40 states have at least one – impervious surfaces in cities and suburbs are expanding, which is exacerbating flooding. Additionally, Shelton said nearly 600,000 miles of streams and rivers are considered impaired. 

When looking at storm water, wastewater and drinking water together, the report stated: “separately, an economic analysis by ASCE shows a water-related infrastructure investment gap of $434 billion over 10 years for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater combined.”

Overall, the U.S. received a grade of  C-, which is an improvement from the D+ in 2017. This is the first time in 20 years the country has received a grade in that range. According to an ASCE press release, this means “on average, the nation’s infrastructure is in mediocre condition, has deficiencies and needs attention.”

In terms of other grades, 11 out of the 17 categories earned a score in the D range. These include storm water, roads, schools, wastewater, transit, aviation, dams, hazardous waste, public parks, inland waterways and levees. Transit, at a D-, earned the lowest grade. 

According to an ASCE press release, grades improved for avation, drinking water, energy, inland waterways and ports. Other grades include: bridges at  a C, energy at a C-, ports at B- and rail at a B.

Through the report card, which is updated every four years, ASCE has found that the long-term infrastructure investment gap continues to grow. According to the press release, “that gap has risen from $2.1 trillion over 10 years in the last report to $2.59 trillion in the latest study, meaning a funding gap of $259 billion per year.” 

There were 22 weather and climate disasters that cost the U.S. $1 billion in 2020, the most in history, according to the press release. 

“America's infrastructure bill is overdue, and we have been ignoring it for years. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates the funding challenge because state and local governments have had to prioritize public health over everything else for the past year,” Jean-Louis Briaud, P.E., ASCE President said in the press release. “If we take action now, we can generate job growth and build infrastructure that is more reliable, more secure and more resilient while increasing the quality of life for everyone.”

Related storm water content: