Investment in water infrastructure can positively affect economic growth, employment
A new report found 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 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 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% due to a one-day disruption in service.
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%), Northeast (20%), South (34%) and West (23%).
Despite this increased need, the report finds that the federal government’s contribution to water infrastructure continues to decrease. Federal investment averages only 9% in recent years, which is down from more than 60% 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,” said 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 analysis falls against a national backdrop of increasingly complex water challenges that are exacerbated by overstressed and antiquated drinking water, wastewater, and storm water 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, increases the competitiveness of American businesses, and leads to a significant injection of economic activity throughout the nation,” said 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.”
The Water Environment Federation is a founding member of this national awareness effort that seeks to advance positive solutions to America’s pressing water challenges.
Read the full report here.