When The Dam Cracks: “There Are 80,000 US Dams, With An Average Age Of 52”
Mar 18, 2017
In his joint address to Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump touted a $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan as a means to stimulate the economy while constructing, if not rebuilding outright, crucial projects around the country. Trump later met with U.S. business leaders on March 8 seeking support from the private sector for the plan. It is key to implementing the administration’s infrastructure goals, primarily as a way to keep costs revenue neutral, so the federal government does not have to increase spending. Specifically, some locks and dams are on the president’s priority list. A handful of projects, however, is only a drop in the bucket of aging, in some cases cracking, U.S. water systems.
Officials have been asked to identify new and existing projects that need to be completed in general. The National Governors Association has already presented a list of more than 400 “shovel ready” projects. While details remain scarce, it appears the strategy is to have the private sector fund the majority of any planned projects, using federal funds only when necessary. But relying on the private sector will inevitably skew the infrastructure initiative toward projects that have a better potential for financial returns, such as ports, airports and toll roads.
Meanwhile, there are more than 80,000 dams in the United States, with an average age of 52 years.