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The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure

Another action during Water Week 2017 on Wednesday, March 22, was the release of the Value of Water Campaign’s infrastructure report – The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure.  The Campaign commissioned the economic impact analysis…”to understand how increasing investments in the nation’s water infrastructure can affect economic growth and employment.”  According to the Report, if current water infrastructure needs were fully met, over the next 10 years, such action would create 1.3 million jobs; save about $94 billion for businesses and industries that rely on water; and add $220 billion each year to the economy.  The Report goes on to say that water utilities serve 86% of the national population and provide approximately half of the freshwater used by commercial and industrial businesses.
In looking at capital needs for water infrastructure, the Report calls for greater investment at all levels of government.  Federal contributions, for example, has declined from 63% of total spending in 1977 to 9% in 2014.  Local contributions, when taken on a per capita basis, have more than doubled – from $45 in 1977 to more than $100 in 2014.
The Report goes on to explore the economic benefits that would derive from greater capital investment in water infrastructure, including increased job opportunities, savings for industries, and impacts from service disruptions.  It also lists out those industries most dependent on water utilities.  Interestingly, academic institutions ranked first on the list followed by chemical manufacturing, dry cleaning and laundry services, and car washes through 15 industries with pharmaceutical manufacturing ranking as 15th.
The Report concluded that water infrastructure is fundamental to our nation’s economic health.  Investing in that infrastructure only strengthens our economy.  “Meeting the investment need requires collaboration across public and private sectors, including strong partners at the local, state, and federal level. The funding gap is significant, but the benefits of filling the gap are far greater.”
ASDWA agrees that closing the infrastructure funding gap is essential, as well as developing smart regulations based on sound science.  To download the Report, go to http://thevalueofwater.org/ and click on the link for the Report.