Chicago's Tunnel and Reservoir Plan--Costs Continue To Rise and Completion of Phase I Is Unlikely

CED-81-51: Published: Jan 21, 1981. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1981.

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GAO was asked to provide updated cost information on Chicago's Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP). Previous reports by GAO pointed out the staggering cost of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago's solution to these problems and questioned whether the country could afford such an expensive and precedent-setting endeavor.

In its review, GAO found that: (1) the cost of TARP and its associated projects has continued to escalate to a current estimate of $10.2 billion; and (2) based on the current rate of inflation, recent funding levels for the Environmental Protection Agency's construction grants program, and the State of Illinois' funding policy for that program, Phase I of TARP would never be completed. The only way in which the unfunded TARP Phase I could be completed would require that (1) Congress appropriate the $5 billion currently authorized by the Clean Water Act for 9 years starting in 1987; and (2) the District receive the entire $260 million allocated to Illinois. However, if this were to occur, no funds would be available for any other pollution control project in the state during these 9 years. Based on past experience, it is highly unlikely that such actions would occur.