ARRA clean water funding benefits economy and environment
As the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) marks its one year anniversary communities are realizing the benefits of the $4 billion provided to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) as nearly all funds (over 99%) are under contract on projects that will repair the nation’s clean water infrastructure while creating needed jobs.
NACWA applauds the clean water investments provided by the Recovery Act as a wise use of federal funds that benefit both the economy and our nation’s water quality. Studies have shown that investment in water infrastructure creates solid jobs and contributes greatly to economic growth. In fact, it is estimated that every $1 billion provided for water and wastewater infrastructure projects creates between 20,000 to 27,000 jobs and an economic ripple effect that adds $2.87 to $3.46 billion to the economy as a result of that investment.
“We are grateful for the investments Congress provided to wastewater infrastructure in the Recovery Act. The projects funded will protect public health, restore the environment, create needed jobs and reduce pollution in our nation’s surface waters,” NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk said.
NACWA was integral in securing CWSRF funding in the Recovery Act. Working in conjunction with other stakeholders, NACWA advocated to ensure that CWSRF investments were included given the significant needs that exist throughout the nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimate a $300-$500 billion funding gap over 20 years between what is needed to upgrade and repair the nation’s wastewater infrastructure and how much funding is available at all levels of government. NACWA’s efforts were also critical in ensuring additional subsidization and green infrastructure provisions that also strengthened the ARRA.
While ARRA helped reduce the backlog, the need for wastewater infrastructure funds remains significant as a recent survey by the Environment Council of the States (ECOS) shows thirty three States have over $56 billion in ready-to-go water and wastewater infrastructure projects awaiting financing through the State Revolving Fund programs. As such, NACWA supports the inclusion of clean water funding in any subsequent stimulus/jobs legislation as well as a sustainable and dedicated federal revenue source via a water and wastewater infrastructure trust fund.
“While this investment helped communities to address their aging infrastructure needs, meet increasingly stringent federal standards and create needed jobs, it is clear that a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism-such as a Trust Fund- is needed. For this reason, we will continue working with Congress to develop a long-term federal commitment to clean water that will provide a sustainable source of funding to help our communities meet their water quality objectives,” Kirk added.