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       Challenges of our nation’s aging infrastructure

Investment is not keeping pace with the needs of America’s crumbling infrastructure. U.S. infrastructure problems impact not only our transportation network, but also water systems, communications networks and the energy grid. 

Learn more about risk exposures

Aging and poorly maintained infrastructure exposes companies to a number of risks. Deteriorating infrastructure can increase the risk of bodily injury from accidents. Aged pipes can burst, causing flooding and significant property damage. Obsolete or outdated systems and equipment can lead to business interruption or supply chain disruption. In addition, equipment breakdown can lead to lost production and income.

As infrastructure ages, interconnected systems may be impacted by external shocks. Extreme weather requires increased resilience to withstand external forces. Natural catastrophes should be mitigated through the development of a resilience strategy that can be used to identify pre-event risk reduction techniques.

Total risk profiling can help assess an organization’s vulnerabilities and risk exposures. In addition, enterprise risk management services can help minimize the impact of insurable and non-insurable business interruptions.

Water Transportation Energy Communications

U.S. Infrastructure: Water

Water Infrastructure dates back to the 19th century in the U.S., leading to increasing failures. Such failures damage businesses, impact communities and even impede emergency response.

  • U.S. has 1.2 million miles of water supply mains – 26 miles of water mains for every mile of interstate highway.
  • Restoring existing water systems and expanding them to serve a growing population will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years.
  • Over 240,000 water main breaks occur each year in the U.S., with costs of the leaks estimated to be $2.6 billion per year.
  • Need for water system replacement accounts for approximately 54% of the total national water system.
  • Approximately 15,500 U.S. dams are considered to have high hazard potential.
  • Average age of dams is 56 years.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report card:
    • Overall quality of dams – D
    • Overall quality of drinking water – D

Could the Oroville Dam help move infrastructure funding forward? While bridges, roads and ports around the country have fallen into disrepair, the Oroville Dam may be the poster child for an aging water infrastructure.


U.S. Infrastructure: Transportation

Transportation infrastructure including highways, rails, ports and inland waterways plays a vital role in our economy, allowing the transport of goods and connecting millions with jobs, medical facilities, schools and recreation. Tragic failures have highlighted the need for urgent repair and replacement.

  • Most of the Interstate Highway system is more than 50 years old.
  • 20 percent of the nation’s highways are in poor condition.
  • In 2011 trucks transported almost 3.9 trillion ton-kilometers of cargo, an increase of 109 percent from 1980.
  • Registered trucks traveled 279.1 billion miles in 2014.
  • U.S Department of Transportation estimates it would cost USD 189 billion to address repairs and improvements.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report Card:
    • Overall quality of roads – D
    • Overall quality of bridges – C+
    • Overall quality of Transit – D-

Transportation challenges can present concerns for both urban and rural communities. While the transportation woes of major cities like New York are big news this summer, cities do not have a monopoly on the problem of aging transportation networks.

[The Denver Post]

U.S. Infrastructure: Energy

Energy infrastructure consists of a system of interconnected power plants, transmission and distribution facilities. Power outages put public safety at risk and increase costs to businesses and consumers.

  • The nation’s power grid dates back as far as the 1880s.
  • Investment in new and maintained U.S. infrastructure is currently insufficient to meet needs.
  • Increased demand for energy due to increasing population and increasing power needs to drive technology.
  • Significant power outages rose from 76 in 2007 to 307 in 2011 to 3,571 total power outages in 2015.
  • If investment in the system isn’t increased by at least $1 billion a year, service interruptions between now and 2020 will cost the economy almost $200 billion.
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report Card:
    • Overall quality of energy sector – D+

Is the U.S. energy grid in at risk? While the world’s attention is on cyber security and emails, our electrical grids may be equally at risk of attack.

[Fresh Air, NPR]

U.S. Infrastructure: Communications

Communications infrastructure is less impacted by age. However, the interconnectedness between the communications infrastructure and other critical, yet aging, infrastructures causes issues.

  • Over the last 25 years, the sector has evolved from predominantly a provider of voice services into a diverse, competitive, and interconnected industry using terrestrial, satellite, and wireless transmission systems.
  • From 2006 through 2011, 53% of the capital investment made by the three largest telephone companies was allocated to legacy networks; just 47% was spent on broadband infrastructure.
  • Extreme weather can create physical disturbances that may damage vulnerable communications equipment.
  • A major cause of telecommunications failures during a disaster is network congestion or overload.
  • Fragility of telecommunications networks can be caused by systems that do not have a high degree of redundancy.
  • Cyber hacking is becoming a significant, and growing, threat to the U.S. communications infrastructure.

Rural America offers unique challenges in the age of high tech. Addressing communications infrastructure challenges may help ensure economic success for less populated areas of the U.S.