What is the value of water to you?
Water is critical for daily life and public health. We rely on it to drink, to cook, to clean, and for fire protection – essentially to live. The water system plays an important role in our economy too – supporting business, industry, and health care.
When the water system was originally built in the late 1800s through the 1930s, the planners designed a system that would both address public health concerns and support the region's rapidly growing economy. The high quality design and engineering of the system highlighted their commitment to supporting the region with a state-of-the-art system that would serve residents for generations to come. But, to continue to maintain this system well into the 21st century, significant investment and improvements are required.
Springfield is not alone in facing the challenges of operating a 100 year old water system with 21st century needs, regulations, and financial challenges. The EPA estimates that, over the next 20 years, approximately $750 billion is needed in water infrastructure investment across the United States. These are critical renewal projects that cannot be neglected – doing so could result in a failure of the water system or a public health crisis. Without federal funding programs, these infrastructure renewal costs will be spread out among rate payers, in order to maintain essential water services, and protect public health.
Aging Infrastructure and Regulatory Challenges
A network of hundreds of miles of water and sewer pipe lies beneath our streets. In combination with reservoirs, pumping stations, and water and wastewater treatment facilities, these pipes bring clean water into homes and businesses, and they carry wastewater to the treatment plant to be cleaned and returned to the environment. Having access to these services is vital for public health, environmental protection, economic development, and quality of life. Today, water utilities are facing two significant challenges. Much of the underground water and sewer infrastructure has reached the end of its life and is in need of upgrade and replacement. In order to continue to provide reliable service, and compliance with regulatory mandates, The Commission must commit to a significant investment of time and resources. Springfield is not alone – nationally, other utilities face these same challenges.
Challenge #1: An Aging Infrastructure
Parts of the water and sewer infrastructure in the City of Springfield date back to the late 1800s. The pipes are aging and in need of repair and replacement.
Challenge #2: Regulatory Mandates
Like many older systems, part of Springfield’s wastewater collection system is composed of combined sewers, which have overflow points called Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that overflows from CSOs be reduced. The Commission’s current York Street Pump Station and Connecticut River Crossing Project The Commission has been working to reduce CSOs since 2003, and will continue to work toward this end for the next 20 years and beyond.
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