A growing number of urban areas throughout the United States — in both dry and rainy locales — are facing pressures on their water infrastructure systems, necessitating greater investments for overhaul and a change in development patterns that are more conducive to conservation, according to a new publication released by the Washington-based Urban Land Institute (ULI). "Infrastructure 2010: An Investment Imperative" summarizes the water infrastructure issues — accessibility and availability, treatment and delivery — communities are facing, and highlights specific water issues in 14 U.S. cities.

Most Americans take their water supply for granted, leading to wasteful water use practices, according to the report. "Most water districts do not charge ratepayers full outlays for constructing and maintaining systems," the report says. "As a result, businesses and households tend to use water inefficiently and don't conserve, even though per-capita water demand could outstrip future availability in some parts of the country."

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