Corrosion in the Water and Wastewater Industry
Both public and private U.S. water and wastewater agencies have infrastructure assets ranging in value from millions to billions of dollars. Assets include dams, aqueducts, tunnels, transmission/collection pipelines, water and wastewater treatment plants, pumping plants, distribution pipelines and storage reservoirs. Many of these facilities are constructed with materials such as concrete, steel, cast iron, ductile iron, stainless steel, brass, copper, and other materials all subject to corrosion attack, which comes with a price tag.
The Cost of Corrosion Study1 showed that the total annual estimated direct cost of corrosion in the U.S. is a staggering $276 billion—approximately 3.1% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In particular, the water and wastewater sector accounted for approximately $36 billion, or 14%, of that total. A few years later, based on a GDP of $450 billion, the cost of corrosion in the water and wastewater sector was $58.5 billion.
A more recent IMPACT (International Measures of Prevention, Application, and Economics of Corrosion Technologies) study2 found that worldwide, the cost of corrosion is $2.5 trillion, and that replacing over one million miles (1.6 million km) of corroded water and wastewater pipelines would cost $2.1 trillion. Thirty to fifty percent of this cost could be avoided through proper design, operation, and corrosion prevention.
These studies also revealed that although corrosion management has improved over the past several decades, the U.S. must find more and better ways to encourage, support, and implement optimal corrosion control practices.
1 U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 2002
2 Initiated by NACE International (now AMPP), 2016