Study Estimates Water Efficiency Could Boost Economy by Billions of Dollars

The analysis by the Alliance for Water Efficiency shows the U.S. could see economic growth of $13 to $15 billion by investing in water infrastructure

Study Estimates Water Efficiency Could Boost Economy by Billions of Dollars

Interested in Infrastructure?

Get Infrastructure articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Infrastructure + Get Alerts

A direct investment of $10 billion in water and energy efficiency programs could boost U.S gross domestic product by $13 to $15 billion and create 120,000 to 260,000 jobs, all while saving between 6.5 and 10 trillion gallons of water, according to a new analysis by the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

The report, “Transforming Water: Water Efficiency as Infrastructure Investment,” indicates that economic benefits would be broadly distributed through the national economy, boosting job creation in at least 20 industry sectors. For a range of water efficiency programs costing an average of $1,200 per million gallons, cumulative savings of 8.3 trillion gallons of water, or 2.3 billion gpd could be achieved.

Americans want Congress and the Trump administration to prioritize infrastructure investments over any other issue, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Value of Water Coalition — 67 percent of respondents said it should be an extremely or very important focus, and 82 percent supported investment in water infrastructure to ensure a safe, reliable supply of drinking water for all communities.

“Investing in infrastructure shouldn’t focus only on conventional and costly capital projects to expand gray infrastructure like treatment plants and reservoirs. Our analysis proves that lower-cost efficiency programs produce strong economic benefits and should be prioritized by policymakers,” says Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “In addition, unlike many traditional public infrastructure investments, water efficiency programs can be deployed in short timeframes and can be readily scaled and adapted.”

The analysis uses an input-output model of the U.S. economy to evaluate the near-term economic benefits of large-scale investments in water and energy efficiency programs. It includes investments in various water efficiency measures, including indoor and outdoor water use efficiency improvements, commercial, industrial, and institutional efficiency improvements, and water utility system efficiency improvements. Program specifications and cost estimates were based on actual efficiency programs developed for U.S. municipal water utilities.

Additional Benefits

The paper also highlights important qualitative benefits of investments in water efficiency. Notably, water efficiency programs can: 

  • Empower water customers to control their water bills and reduce their costs
  • Reinforce the position of U.S. manufacturers as leaders in technology innovation
  • Help distressed and low-income communities where water infrastructure has not been adequately maintained
  • Connect directly to communities and involve citizens 
  • Help reduce long-term political conflicts over water resources 
  • Reduce the use of energy needed to operate water systems, resulting in an increase in national energy independence

“Together with the clear economic benefits we’ve identified, these qualitative gains that water efficiency programs are no-regret investments in our nation’s future,” says Dickinson. “All communities, regardless of immediate water scarcity issues, should prioritize water efficiency as a public investment.” 

The report and a related Fact Sheet can be accessed at The Alliance for Water Efficiency is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the efficient and sustainable use of water in the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Chicago, the Alliance works with more than 400 water utilities, water conservation professionals in business and industry, planners, regulators, and consumers.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.