One trillion dollars sounds like a lot, but it falls remarkably short of the $3.9 trillion the US needs by 2025 to rebuild its own aging infrastructure. That’s the estimate of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which gave the nation’s overall infrastructure a D+ in 2013, with “poor” scores given to levees, roads, inland waterways, drinking water and more.
One of the most urgent areas for investment is the nation’s crumbling dams. According to energy news outlet E&E, about 70% of America’s 90,000 dams will be at least 50 years old by 2025, putting them near the end of their engineering lifespans. An estimated 15,500 American dams are now considered “high hazard,” meaning their failure could cause fatalities.
The cost of repairing and upgrading these structures is estimated to be around $54 billion.
According to E&E, 80 dams failed in South Carolina in the past two years alone, causing millions of dollars’ worth of property damage. And just last month in a high-profile case, more than 188,000 Californians had to be evacuated to avoid the collapse of the Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest dam.
Of course, this estimate makes for massive market potential. More than 80% of US infrastructure, from schools to streets to sanitation, is in either private or municipal ownership. This means commodity and municipal bond investors will need to pick up where federal dollars leave off.
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