Caitlyn Butler, Simos Gerasimidis
Wastewater infrastructure in the United States has been in dire need of improvement for quite a while. It was estimated that wastewater treatment systems would need about $57.2 billion to maintain acceptable levels of treatment in the coming years (Christen, 2003). This is just for maintaining the treatment systems in place, without any room for improvement, and it only accounts for about 31.6% of the total waster infrastructure need in this area (Christen, 2003). In fact, without sufficient upgrades, water quality gains achieved through the passing of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water acts could be lost (Christen, 2003). More recently in 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimated that if the current trend continues in which only partial funding is provided by the federal government to address the problem, the funding gap of both wastewater and water infrastructure is expected to reach $84 billion (67% of total need) by 2020, and $144 billion (73% of total need) by 2040 (ASCE, 2013). Because of this funding gap, wastewater treatment plants have to be able to address many of the shortcomings themselves. Therefore, wastewater treatment plants have to be able to perform more efficient treatment with less investment.