On January 27, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that concluded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) aren’t tracking their efforts to encourage smaller water and wastewater utilities to manage their assets. In the report, EPA and USDA Are Helping Small Water Utilities with Asset Management; Opportunities Exist to Better Track Results, the GAO surveyed asset management practices at 25 small utilities that serve fewer than 10,000 people across 10 states-Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Vermont and Wyoming.
GAO stated EPA’s collected information does not show whether the water utilities that receive training from the agencies went on to incorporate asset management practices into their work processes or whether these water utilities have improved their managerial or financial capacity. They recommend EPA consider collecting information about utilities’ use of asset management through its needs assessment surveys, and that both agencies compile the benefits of asset management into one document. EPA and USDA have agreed with GAO’s findings and recommendations.
EPA estimates that small water utilities may need around $143 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure repairs and replacement over 20 years.