Mr. President, Invest in Water Infrastructure
Posted by Jeff Eger
Nov. 7, 2012
The Obama administration will face a number of economic challenges over the next four years — one of which is the urgent need to modernize and replace the country’s aging water infrastructure. Such investment will help put Americans back to work and better prepare the country for dealing with extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy.
Our essential water infrastructure is failing and is woefully inadequate to address the "new normal" weather patterns. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s drinking and wastewater infrastructure a D-minus grade. Broken and leaking pipes cause the loss of nearly two trillion gallons of drinking water per year at an annual cost of $2.6 billion. Restoring existing drinking water systems and expanding them to serve a growing population will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years. At current funding levels, there will be a funding gap of at least $224 billion nationwide over the next 20 years.
Some argue that we can’t afford these investments during a time of economic distress, but as Sandy demonstrated, we cannot afford to neglect our infrastructure any longer. We must have reliable and resilient water infrastructure systems to attract and retain industry, business, and qualified workers, which are essential to any thriving community. The National Association of Utility Contractors estimates that for every $1 billion invested in water infrastructure, 26,000 jobs are created. Water infrastructure investment is also critical to protect public health and our quality of life, and it promotes innovative technologies that will help keep America competitive.
This is not a partisan issue – it is an American issue and we need renewed political will, leadership, and cooperation to find solutions to the funding gap. With millions of Americans out of work, the timing could not be better to reinvest in our water infrastructure, create jobs, boost the nation’s economy, and get more prepared for the next wet weather emergency. WEF looks forward to working with the administration to help make that happen.