Water Week Highlights Need for Investments in Infrastructure

Supporters gathered from around the country to deliver a clear message about the importance of water infrastructure to Congress and the administration

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In recognition of Water Week and World Water Day March 22, advocates around the nation underlined a need for significant investments in water infrastructure. As a part of that larger effort, the Value of Water Campaign commissioned and released a report titled “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure,” making a case for how closing the investment gap in water infrastructure would create 1.3 million jobs and $220 billion in economic activity.

Meanwhile, hundreds of water and wastewater professionals, grass roots supporters and other stakeholders gathered at the nation's capital to advocate for federal policies that advance clean, safe, affordable and sustainable water for all Americans.  

Report finds economic costs to inaction on water infrastructure

A new report finds that closing the nation’s gap in investment in water infrastructure would create 1.3 million jobs and generate $220 billion in economic activity.

The analysis also found a severe economic cost to inaction. At a national level, a one-day disruption in water service can lead to a loss of $43.5 billion in sales and $22.5 billion in GDP. At the local level, industries most reliant on water would see sales drop by up to 75 percent due to a one-day disruption in service.

The report, “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure” was commissioned by the Value of Water Campaign to better understand how investments in the nation’s water infrastructure affects economic growth and employment. The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a founding member of this national awareness effort that seeks to advance positive solutions to America’s pressing water challenges.

To maintain reliable clean water services alone, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. needs to invest an additional $82 billion in water infrastructure per year over the next decade at all levels of government. Those capital needs are dispersed across the country, including the Midwest (23 percent), Northeast (20 percent), South (34 percent), and West (23 percent).

Despite this increased need, the report finds that the federal government’s contribution to water infrastructure continues to decrease. Federal investment averages just 9 percent in recent years, which is down from more than 60 percent 40 years ago.

“Although we were pleased to see a proposed FY 2018 Budget Request that includes a slight increase to water infrastructure funding programs, it still falls short of the billions that are needed to modernize our systems and to maintain the quality and service that our communities are accustomed to receiving,” says WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “Inadequate investment in our water infrastructure as well as reductions in funding for watershed protections and water-related research pose a real threat to our water resources and our quality of life.”

The report release coincides with World Water Day and Water Week — global and national efforts designed to bring attention to the value and importance of clean water, which is essential to the protection of public health, the environment, and a growing economy.

The analysis falls against a national backdrop of increasingly complex water challenges that are exacerbated by overstressed and antiquated drinking water, wastewater and stormwater management systems as well as regulatory requirements that at times outpace the technological capabilities of the nation’s water and wastewater facilities. 

“The report findings make it clear that investments in water infrastructure generate high quality jobs, increase the competitiveness of American businesses and lead to a significant injection of economic activity throughout the nation,” says Radhika Fox, executive director of the Value of Water Campaign. “That is the message we want public officials on Capitol Hill and across the country to hear: Investing in water equals jobs. Investing in water infrastructure builds a prosperous America.”

Utilities advocate for water reuse investments

WateReuse members from across the United States recently visited Washington, D.C., to elevate water as national priority during the National Water Policy Fly-In, a highlight of Water Week 2017.

WateReuse is participating with other water sector organizations to deliver a clear, consistent and unified message about the importance of water and water infrastructure to Congress and the administration.

Safe, reliable, locally controlled water supplies are essential to livable communities that foster healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life. Recycling water to meet local needs for irrigation, agriculture, energy generation, manufacturing and drinking is gaining momentum across the country.

“To grow the economy, we need to invest in infrastructure — that means better roads, safer bridges and a sustainable supply of clean water,” says WateReuse Executive Director Melissa Meeker. “Investing in water recycling will not only create jobs now but also ensure a reliable supply of clean water for sustained economic growth.“

During the week of March 19-25, hundreds of water, wastewater and recycled water professionals, thought leaders, stakeholders and grass roots supporters gathered to advocate for national policies that advance clean, safe, affordable and sustainable water for all Americans.

On March 22, the Rally for Water on the U.S. Capitol grounds focused lawmakers and the nation on the crucial issues that impact the sustainability of, and public access to, clean water in America.

The goals of Water Week were to strengthen the partnership between the federal government and the water sector, emphasize the importance of investment in water infrastructure and research, continue to inform policymakers about crucial water-related issues, and to inspire them to act.

During Water Week, WateReuse informed lawmakers and policymakers about the benefits of water recycling and advocated for the legislation and investment outlined in the association’s 2017-‘21 Action Agenda to advance the more widespread use of recycled water.


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