President Barack Obama emphasized rebuilding America in his second State of the Union address and called for renewed investments in the aging infrastructure systems that sustain economic growth and competitiveness and serve as engines for American jobs. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) applauds the President for his leadership on the issue of renewing America’s commitment to infrastructure investments but is disappointed that the President did not include mention of the need to recommit to investing in our water and wastewater infrastructure. America’s communities face a $500 billion need in clean water and drinking water infrastructure investments and federal leadership and support for greater investment in this infrastructure is essential if we expect our economy to thrive.
It is well documented that our water infrastructure is reaching a tipping point. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) latest infrastructure report card gave the nation’s water infrastructure a D-, the lowest of any infrastructure category. As a result, each day the nation suffers significant losses and damages from broken water and sewer mains, sewage overflows, and scarcity of drinking water supplies among other challenges.
At the same time, investments in water infrastructure provide significant economic benefits. The U.S. Conference of Mayors notes that each public dollar invested in water infrastructure increases private long-term GDP output by $6.35. A dollar invested in water infrastructure creates more jobs than in any other type of infrastructure and the Department of Commerce estimates that each job created in the local water and sewer industry creates 3.68 jobs in the national economy.
NACWA has long advocated that a stronger federal partnership is needed to assist states and localities in funding clean water projects by providing continued funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to address the nation's water quality challenges.
“The federal government must remain a reliable partner in meeting the nation’s clean water needs and Congress should begin by approving the President's $2.1 billion Fiscal Year 2011 budget request for the CWSRF. Although a fraction of the $93 billion local governments invest annually, the CWSRF funding produces substantial returns in the form of jobs, economic growth and competitiveness while safeguarding the environment, public health, and quality of life for countless Americans”, said Ken Kirk, NACWA’s Executive Director.
Over the long-term, NACWA believes that continued clean water investment must be sustainable and, ultimately, deficit-neutral. To this end, NACWA supports the creation of a long-term federal commitment to clean water through the creation of a clean water trust fund that would fund the CWSRF through equitable and firewalled revenue sources. We urge this Administration and Congress to work with us to achieve this critical goal.
For additional information on the Clean Water Trust Fund and other NACWA positions regarding clean water infrastructure funding, please visit the infrastructure funding page of NACWA’s website.