The United States Conference of Mayors Water Council tracks aggregate public expenditures and revenues of local water and sewer systems and the latest Census data reported for 2020 estimates local spending at $144.6 billion. This is not only an all-time annual high in spending but also demonstrates higher than expected infrastructure investment in the first year of pandemic restrictions and concerns about a faltering economy. Normally, based on the last 28 years of relevant data and analysis, annual increases in local spending average to around 4%. The 2020 spending estimate is 7.3% higher than in 2019, a $10 billion increase when a $4.5 billion increase was anticipated.
What made the difference in actual versus expected utility spending levels – the CARES Act provided federal financial assistance in ways that allowed people and organizations to use grants and cash allocations to pay for things like rent, food and utilities – both water/sewer and energy. This report describes the change in utility expenditures and revenues from 1993 to 2020; and, identifies the investments in infrastructure construction in water supply, wastewater and sewer utilities, and how those investments changed from 2019 to 2020.