WEF applauds inclusion of water in political platforms

October 2012, Vol. 67 No. 10

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) applauds the Democratic and Republican National Committees for including support for water infrastructure in their party platforms.

The Republican Platform Committee, chaired by Governor Bob McDonnell (VA), and the Democratic Platform Committee, chaired by former Governor Ted Strickland (OH), completed their deliberations in advance of the two recent national conventions. The Republican Platform was adopted Aug. 28 in Tampa, FL, and the Democratic Platform was adopted Sept. 4 in Charlotte, NC.

WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger praised inclusion of water in the platforms saying, “These party platforms reflect the critical issues facing our nation, and our crumbling water infrastructure clearly is one of those critical issues. It is very significant that when the two parties have major differences on so many issues, there is still bipartisan agreement about the need to protect our water supplies and public health, and the economic benefit of doing so.”

Neither party’s 2008 platform included language on water infrastructure. A July 25 letter from Eger to McDonnell and Strickland urged both parties to correct this oversight and use their platforms as an opportunity to recognize the economic as well as health and environmental benefits of water infrastructure investment. In addition, WEF requested support for platform language from members of Congress and other elected officials. Several WEF Member Associations, including those in Ohio and New England, sent their own letters in coordination with WEF Government Affairs staff.

Most drinking water and wastewater systems costs are paid by local ratepayers, but federal assistance in the form of low-interest loans or grants is an important factor in the ability of many communities to afford needed improvements. Although the 2009 Recovery Act provided a surge of temporary funding, the federal role in supporting water infrastructure has declined steadily over the past two decades.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that $1 billion in water infrastructure investment creates 40,000 jobs. According to the ASCE, failure to make the necessary investments may lead to $206 billion in increased costs for businesses and households between now and 2020, and unless the infrastructure deficit is addressed by 2040, 1.4 million jobs will be at risk. A recent survey found that 95 percent of voters rank clean water as the most important service government provides.