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Still, said CGA President Bob Kipp, there’s more to be done. “We’ve gotten the low hanging fruit. Now it’s time to reach for the next level.”
Promoting water funding
A recent study titled “Public Water Works!” conducted by Corporate Accountability International (CAI), reports that people across political party lines overwhelmingly support the critical need to invest in the nation’s public water systems.
“As this report finds, in a time of economic uncertainty and political partisanship, people across the U.S. are sure of this: public water works,” said CAI Executive Director Kelle Louaillier. “By ceasing to neglect our most essential public service, we can create jobs, grow the economy and help safeguard the health of generations to come.”
The report documents how, over the last 35 years, the federal commitment to public water systems has gone from covering 78 percent of clean water spending to just 3 percent today. In fiscal year 2010, federal appropriations reached a 16-year high of $1.4 billion – less than one-tenth of what was needed to close the annual water infrastructure investment gap, estimated at $23 billion per year.
Further, the report highlights the fact that closing the investment gap would generate $265.6 billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million jobs over the next five years.
While this is another alarming report in a long list of such information, replete with facts and figures, it doesn’t change the fact that sewer/water public infrastructure funding is considered an expendable element in an out-of-control budget. While roads and bridges have a funding source (even if inadequate), the water/sewer infrastructure is increasingly forced to discover its own funding sources. While that may sound good in theory, the reality is that even in a healthy economy, cities will never be able to address their infrastructure needs on their own. In fact, cities are worried that they cannot realistically raise user fees enough to cover basic operating costs and emergency repairs, let alone reinvest in maintenance and badly-needed system upgrades.
Any way you spin it, money for water and sewer infrastructure seems like a win-win: good for public health and good for job creation. Now if we can just get someone at the Federal level to listen . . .