Skip to content
CityLab
Culture

Why Is There So Little Innovation in Water Infrastructure?

For one thing, consumers have no tolerance for risk. 
relates to Why Is There So Little Innovation in Water Infrastructure?
Flickr/Mircea2011

On its 2013 report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. water infrastructure a D. Even the nation’s best water systems are ancient -- we have over 240,000 water main breaks each year -- and unprepared for a mix of current challenges that includes climate change, tightening budgets, growing urban populations, and pharmaceutical contaminants. This spring, after record-setting rains, Detroit had no choice but to pour several hundred million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes. 

What's the problem with American water infrastructure? In part, it's the same old story: federal infrastructure spending in the U.S. continues to fall and cash-strapped cities, choked by the sequester and the economic crisis, can't afford to fill in the gaps.