Rosa González: WATER WORKS

Post written by Rosa González from Green For All 

Every year, enough untreated sewage escapes into our waterways to completely cover the state of Pennsylvania in sludge an inch thick. Yuck.

So what if there were a way to fix that – while putting over 1.8 million people to work and adding more than a quarter of a trillion dollars to the economy? As you’ve guessed: there is.

Green for All, in partnership with Economic Policy Institute, American Rivers, and Pacific Institute, recently released a new report: “Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs, Greening the Environment.” The report looks at what would happen if we invested in America’s water infrastructure – and finds that an investment of $188.4 billion spread equally over the next five years would generate $265.6 billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million jobs.

With the side benefit of keeping sewage out of our streams.

We’re not going to claim that the report is casual reading, but we’d love to have you take a look. In addition to topline numbers, it reviews the workforce opportunities that would result from such an investment, analyzing a representative set of occupations in industries related to water infrastructure. It also argues that the use of green infrastructure – infrastructure that mimics natural water solutions — offers a means to meet the stormwater management needs of our communities while offering a number of other benefits.

Here’s the kicker: there’s no better time to do it.

We have a water and wastewater infrastructure in the U.S. that is outdated, overextended, and in crisis. As our infrastructure deteriorates, investment is not keeping pace. Total public investment in water infrastructure as a share of the economy has fallen by over one-third since peak levels of investment in 1975. But fixing it now lets us take advantage of three benefits unique to the moment:

  1. Water infrastructure investments would create jobs now, when they are most needed.
  2. The cost of financing this investment is at historic lows.
  3. The current economic climate can reduce the costs of infrastructure projects.

Sounds great, right? Eliminate untreated waste, build greener, more sustainable water systems, put people to work and improve the economy. So what’s the hold up?

Politics. As always, politics. Making simple decisions hard since 1787.

At some point, we’ll be forced to address our aging water infrastructure – there will be an unprecedented leak, or a city will lose fresh water access. Then we’ll pay a premium to fix it. All we’re suggesting is – why not fix it before that happens?

And, as a side benefit, stop dumping millions of gallons of waste into our water systems.

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