March 20, 2023

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American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2019 Report Card - Georgia Section


In 2019, the overall grade for Georgia’s infrastructure improved for the first time ever, rising to a cumulative grade of C+. While significant improvements headline this positive story, many challenges remain as addressed in our five Key Solutions to Raise the Grade. The U.S. Census report published in early January 2019 shows that Georgia’s population has grown from 9.7 million in 2010 to 10.5 million in 2018. Georgia’s growth begs many questions: How will all of these people move around? Will they have adequate drinking water and electricity?

Drinking water B-

The state will need approximately $12.5 billion over the next 20 years to meet capital improvement demands.

The widespread use of new technologies and practices, such as smart pressure reducing valves, pressure data loggers, automated metering infrastructure, Computer Maintenance Management Systems, and “on condition” maintenance has improved the safety and reliability of drinking water service. Georgia is a nationwide leader in water loss control initiatives and is shifting toward comprehensive water loss control programs. Drought protection has significantly improved over the past four years. Meanwhile, Georgia’s relatively low incidence of health-based violations is reflective of these new innovations. Sustaining this performance will require utility rate structures to be continually re-examined to ensure adequate funding.

Stormwater C-

Improvements over the past 5 years but substantial funding needs remain

Georgia’s stormwater infrastructure – drains, manholes, pipes, ditches, and more – has improved over the past five years. More localities are creating designated stormwater funding sources, as evidenced by the 44% growth in stormwater utilities since 2014. This increase in funding, a shift to integrated water planning, and the addition of volume reduction requirements in recent MS4 permits are the major factors in the slight grade increase. While this progress is significant, substantial funding needs remain. A limited stormwater program survey indicated a median of $6 per capita per year is spent on new or renovated stormwater infrastructure, much less than the $85 per capita need projected by the Environmental Protection Agency. Looking forward, Georgia’s growing population is likely to continue to stress its stormwater management infrastructure and additional action will be needed to protect water quality in streams, rivers, and lakes.

Wastewater D+

$2.7 billion in wastewater needs

Nearly half of all Georgians do not have access to public sewers, many relying on septic systems.

Georgia’s wastewater infrastructure continues to age, and wastewater agencies struggle to upgrade wastewater treatment systems to meet changing water quality standards. While progress has been made in dealing with the threats of overflows from combined sewer systems, slow progress in addressing overflows from sanitary sewer systems, aging wastewater infrastructure and the demands of a growing population have resulted in lowering of the grade. Systems need to be properly maintained and expanded for future growth.

Bridges C+

14,940 bridges, 3% of which were structurally deficient in 2019

The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 provided $900 million in additional funding for Georgia’s transportation system each year, including for the 14,863 bridges and culverts across the state. As a result, Georgia has decreased the percentage of structurally deficient bridges, from 8.6% in 2014 to 4.6% in 2017. In 2014, the general condition of the bridge infrastructure was in decline, but today this trend has been reversed and the rate of improvement is increasing each year as new funding and programs mature. However, at the local level, municipalities and counties often lack the tools needed to strategically prioritize bridge maintenance and struggle to find funding to improve the condition of bridges.

Dams D

630 high hazard dams

Over the last five years, progress has been made toward addressing dam safety in Georgia. Staffing levels supporting the Georgia Safe Dams Program have more than doubled, from four to 10 full-time employees (as of December 2018). Additionally, significant progress has been made in developing Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) to address dam safety; as of December 2018, 58% of high hazard potential dams had EAPs, up from 5% in 2014. Nevertheless, major challenges remain. With increased funding for inspection, 87 additional state-regulated deficient dams have been identified and cataloged since 2014. In another challenge, most dams in Georgia are privately-owned, and the significant cost associated with dam operation and maintenance remain a challenge for many property owners.

Energy B

The condition of the grid is aging and the commitment to add, maintain and/or replace infrastructure is vital.

Energy in Georgia is primarily generated by natural gas, followed by nuclear and coal, and finally, renewables. In 2016, the state led the nation in the use of wood and wood-derived fuels for generation and in 2017, Georgia was ranked third in the amount of generation from all biomass resources. In recent years, Georgia has increased its electric power capacity by focusing on alternative resources, such as nuclear and solar. With 1556.33 MW of installed solar, Georgia moved up from 22nd to 10th for electricity generated by solar in 2017.

Ports B

Two major ports in Georgia, Savannah and Brunswick

The capacity of Georgia’s ports has increased over the past five years. Today, the Port of Savannah is the busiest export port in the U.S. and is competitive in a post-Panama expansion global marketplace. The Georgia Ports Authority has embarked on a planned growth strategy that will require funding from the federal government as well as Georgia state funds. When finished, the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal will be home to the largest on-dock intermodal rail facility in North America. Meanwhile, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) continues to be a major priority. When completed, SHEP will cost an estimated total of $973 million. Critical to the success of Georgia’s ports will be ensuring adequate capacity on roads, rail and inland waterways to carry goods to and from the ports.

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