While ECA’s focus is on local government and agencies, we do have opportunities to participate on the national level through our membership in the Clean Water Construction Coalition. 

One of those opportunities surfaced when we remotely attended some of the meetings of the 8th annual infrastructure education and advocacy program “United for Infrastructure Week,” September 14-21. Speakers included Governor Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland and immediate past chair, National Governors Association and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, among others.

Anew report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the U.S. Water Alliance’s Value of Water Campaign provided the backbone information, which reinforces that the United States is underinvesting in its drinking water and wastewater systems, putting American households and the economy at risk.

According to the report, “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure,”local, state and federal funding streams are meeting just a fraction of the $109-billion needed each year to replace the nation’s water infrastructure. 

The analysis found:

  • The nation’s water infrastructure is aging and deteriorating. 
  • We are chronically underinvesting in water infrastructure.
  • Federal investment is lagging, placing added pressure on local and state governments. 
  • Growing demand is shaping future infrastructure needs.

In 2019, for instance, total capital spending on water infrastructure projects at local, state and federal levels was approximately $48 billion, compared to investment needs of $129 billion, an $81 billion funding gap. 

Because necessary projects have been pushed further into the future, the aging infrastructure is breaking down. Leaking pipes caused the loss of the equivalent of $7.6 billion worth of treated water in 2019, a loss that is projected to more than double over the next 20 years, reaching $16.7 billion in 2039.

In 2019, water service disruptions resulted in $51 billion in economic loss for 11 water-reliant industries such as construction, health services, retail, manufacturing and more. With the current trajectory, service disruptions will cost water-reliant businesses an estimated $116 billion by 2029 and will soar to $264 billion by 2039.

“If this trend continues, the nation’s water systems will become less reliable, breaks and failures will become more common, vulnerabilities to disruptions will compound, and public health and the nation’s economy will be put at risk,” the report authors said. But, they added, the scenario would be very different if large investments close the investment gap.

Read the full 40-page report at:

//www.uswateralliance.org/sites/uswateralliance.org/files/publications/Final_VOW_Economic%20Paper.pdf

 

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]