Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell on Feb. 27 issued an executive order establishing a high-level task force that will review water and wastewater infrastructure needs throughout the state.

"Our water and wastewater infrastructure is aging," he said in a statement. "Pennsylvania is facing nearly $20 billion in unmet water-related infrastructure needs, and that doesn't even take into account ongoing capital costs and expenses associated with operations and maintenance responsibilities."

Rendell said the state needs a comprehensive plan "that supports a sustainable network of systems to protect public health, and ensure citizens and businesses don't lose out on the quality and dependable services they have come to expect."

A federal Clean Water Needs Survey found that Pennsylvania is facing nearly $11 billion in unmet drinking water infrastructure needs and at least $7.2 billion in unmet wastewater infrastructure needs.

The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force will analyze issues related to cost-effective and sustainable investment in the state's water and sewer infrastructure. It will also review water infrastructure needs related to the Bay cleanup effort.

The task force will consider new funding options and nonstructural alternatives to capital upgrades, such as nutrient credit trading, water re-use and conservation. The task force is charged with developing a report by Oct. 1 that provides recommendations and financing options to support water-related services in the governor's fiscal year 2009-10 budget proposal.

Members of the task force had not been named in mid-March, but were to include representatives of the administration, General Assembly, academia, the state's Office of Consumer Advocate, as well as local government and municipal associations.

"Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of its water infrastructure," Rendell said. "Without one, our ability to tackle the serious environmental and economic infrastructure challenges facing our communities will be jeopardized."