WASHINGTON, DC-Locally based Urban Land Institute’s latest annualreport on the nation’s infrastructure focuses on the aging waterinfrastructure and the need to change development patterns inresponse.

Called Infrastructure 2010: An Investment Imperative, the report,released by both ULI and Ernst & Young, focused on the US’ water”profligacy,” noting that Americans consume nearly 656,000 gallons per capita annually, outstripping China, which uses less than 186,000 gallons per capita annually. This profligacy is exacerbated by the nation’s water infrastructure, which is in direneed of repair.

Changing development patterns can help to a certain extent, the report found.For example, by integrating more concentrated land development withwater management runoff can be reduced. “Regional and local problems with both water quantity and quality will continue without a broad-based cutback in public water consumption and a change in how and where we build,” says ULI executive vice presidentMaureen McAvey. “Water infrastructure must be viewed through the lensof sustainable growth.”

Even in such cities as Washington, DC–in a region of the countrythat is not troubled by a water shortage–the problems in upgrading the infrastructure are becoming apparent, the report finds. The DC Water and Sewer Authority received $58 million from the federal government in the stimulus package, but it’s not enough for all of the required upgrades. A local tax on plastic grocery bags was recently implementedto defray some of the costs.

The District also has trouble accommodating growth in emergingneighborhoods outside of downtown, according to the report.Developers gripe about the lack of capital improvements in waterinfrastructure necessary to host new projects, it said. And while officials discussaggressive financing and taxing options to make necessary upgrades andrepairs, they often are not executed. Indeed, the grocery bag tax wasmet with fierce protests from constituents.

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