Katrina's Damage To Water Systems To Top $2.25 Billion

The costs to repair and replace public drinking water infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina will surpass $2.25 billion, according to a preliminary assessment from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) released on Sept. 22.

AWWA is providing the report to members of Congress and the White House to help decision-makers plan for the costs of getting water systems damaged by Katrina back into operation as soon as possible.

The AWWA report estimates costs to repair or replace assets such as treatment plants, storage pumping, and related control facilities impacted by storm surge, flooding and other factors. It also analyzes the impact of revenue shortfalls due to the inability to service debt, particularly in communities where customers have relocated and the system is inoperable.

However, the report does not include the costs of critical recovery activities such as pipe flushing and disinfection, interim operating needs such as power generation, and cleaning up contaminated source waters.

"While the preliminary cost estimate for replacing and repairing water infrastructure is significant, we expect the full cost of restoring water systems to pre-Hurricane Katrina status could be much higher," said Jack Hoffbuhr, AWWA executive director. "Nevertheless, this estimate will help Congress begin to gauge the long-term costs of restoring safe drinking water service, which is critical for any community."

The report estimates that $1.6 billion will be required for 47 water systems serving more than 10,000 persons, with an additional $650 million required in 885 smaller, primarily groundwater systems. The systems are all in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

A copy of the report can be found in AWWA's online Hurricane Help Center: http://www.awwa.org/advocacy/Katrina.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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