A little more than two decades ago, when the EPA was still in the early stages of establishing its own water treatment plant, the agency hired a firm to study the idea.
The study, known as the “Harrison Report,” found that the proposed system would provide far more than just water treatment.
It would also help to curb climate change, boost efficiency and improve water quality.
A lot of the work was done on a shoestring budget: $3 million of the agency’s $12 billion budget for water treatment in 1995 came from a one-time savings from Congress.
But in a report that was released in May, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the U.S. government’s scientific arm, estimated that the cost of the project alone would cost $40 billion by 2030.
That’s not counting the cost to taxpayers of maintaining and operating the plant, or the costs of the new EPA regulations that would make the project costlier.
The Harrison Report was the first public assessment of the water treatment system proposed for the Gulf Coast in 1997.
Today, the EPA has spent about $3 billion on the project.
The agency estimates that it could provide about half of that cost savings if it built the system on the existing infrastructure.
The report, released in January, called the proposed plant a “critical infrastructure.”
Its design is based on an idea called “natural gas-powered water treatment,” which the EPA had tried before.
It was based on a new method of producing a concentrated water that has the power to absorb pollutants from the air, while also trapping carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the process.
The EPA spent years studying the technology, developing guidelines, and developing new tests for the water it would be using to treat wastewater and other industrial waste.
But the technology hasn’t advanced that far.
The technology used in the Harrison Report would work in most cases but wouldn’t be particularly reliable, said Steve Nissen, an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
It’s unclear if the technology would be able to handle the heavy loads that the plant would be required to handle, and even if it would.
The system is expected to be up and running by 2020, but only if the EPA decides to go ahead with it.
The plant would cost an estimated $200 million to build, according to the report.
That price tag is the highest of any proposed plant anywhere in the world, and could mean the difference between having to rebuild a $6 billion system or just upgrading the existing facility.
The water treatment industry is a $20 trillion industry in the U-S-Mexico border region, according in a 2016 report by the UMWA, a trade group representing the industry.
The region is home to about half the nation’s supply of water.
It supplies water to cities in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, as well as parts of the West, including California.
The plants generate about 5 percent of all the drinking water for millions of people in the United States.
The industry is expected be worth about $10 billion in 2025, the report said.
And that’s just the first phase of the Harrison Plant.
The UMWAs report estimated that at the end of 2026, the plant will produce up to 8 million acre-feet of water and generate more than 100 million gallons of wastewater.
The project also is expected that it would cost more than $30 billion to build.
And as the EPA works to make its case for building the plant and the regulatory changes that would follow, it has been criticized for its slow pace of environmental approvals.
The environmental impact statement that the agency submitted for the project was just completed in 2016, a year after it was first submitted to the EPA.
The process took two years.
But some lawmakers have questioned whether the agency waited to have a full environmental impact study on the proposal.
“The agency didn’t get an environmental impact [statement] in two years,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“It’s not like the entire industry got a report in two or three years.”
The Harrison Plant has received at least three environmental reviews from the EPA’s Office of Management and Budget since 1997, according the American Water Works Association.
In 2009, the office concluded that the water plant’s “significant design choices, including the use of a single-stage, high-pressure water pump, are in good alignment with existing practices, with minimal or no impact on public health and safety.”
In the same year, the Environmental Protection Agency found that there was no evidence that the project’s “system-wide water system design has increased greenhouse gas emissions.”
And the EPA also noted that the environmental assessment had been completed “more than five years after completion of the proposed project.”
“The Harrison Report did not address the complex engineering and cost implications of this proposed project,” the EPA said in a statement at the time