US Army Corps of Engineers
Institute for Water Resources Website

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Value to the Nation


Capital Stock: Infrastructure Age

The top table on the left shows statistics related to USACE infrastructure age. About 35% of these dam structures are deemed to be in “poor” or “unsatisfactory” condition. USACE navigation structures (median age of 60 years), are slightly older than USACE dams (median age of 55 years). The variation in age is fairly high within both structure types with respective standard deviations of 20 years for dam structures and 28 years for navigation locks and dams. The high standard deviations around these ages are, in part, due to the different eras of USACE infrastructure investment. The maximum age for both navigation and dam structures is around 180 years, which suggests that, in very special cases, both dam and lock chamber structures can long exceed their expected service life. While these 180-year old projects are anomalies in the USACE portfolio, about 19% of USACE multipurpose and FRM dams are between 70 and 90 years old and about 22% of navigation structures are currently between 80 and 100 years old. In other words, more than 20% of USACE structures have already exceeded their respective estimated service lives of 60 and 75 years. See the figures to the right for histograms of the current age distributions of these two types of structures. Note that these age distributions do not take into account any major rehabilitations or structure replacement.

The average USACE infrastructure age is very close to the BEA-estimated "non-buildings" service life.

Graphic of Navigation Structure Age Distribution

Graphic of Flood Risk Mgmt and Multipurpose Dam Age Distribution

Average Age of USACE Water Resources Projects (Snorteland 2017; Riley 2017)
Functional Category Number of Projects Average Age Median Age Standard Deviation Minimum Age Maximum Age
Flood Risk Management (FRM) Reservoirs 135 59 59 14.3 7 81
Navigation Dams 71 70 78 27.1 13 181
Navigation Lock Chambers 222 63 58 26.6 8 178
Multipurpose (with FRM) 389 57 54 18.5 16 133
Multipurpose (without FRM) 120 61 53 29.4 6 178
Multipurpose (ALL) 509 58 54 22 6 178
All Dams excluding single purpose NAV 644 58 55 20 6 178
BEA Service Life Estimates for Government Nonresidential Structures
Asset Service Life (years) Asset Type
Industrial 32 Building
Educational 50 Building
Hospital 50 Building
Other 50 Building
Highways and Streets 60 Non-building
Conservation and Development 60 Non-building
Sewer Systems 60 Non-building
Water Systems 60 Non-building
Military Facilities 50 Non-building
Other 60 Non-building
Graphic illustrating Value to the Nation business line topics

2017 Capital Stock Fast Facts