Water should be a transport infrastructure concern

Water has for too long been left out of the national conversation around infrastructure, to the point where it has become the ‘hidden’ infrastructure.

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In honor of Infrastructure Week 2014, President Obama gave a speech at the Tappan Zee Bridge on funding for transportation infrastructure, highlighting in particular the jobs and economic benefits our nation will reap from this much-needed investment.

Unfortunately, too often water infrastructure gets left out of the national conversation – which is exactly why the Value of Water Coalition released a research paper on that very topic.

“Water has for too long been left out of the national conversation around infrastructure, to the point where it has become the ‘hidden’ infrastructure,” said Ben Grumbles, President of the U.S. Water Alliance and Project Manager for the Value of Water Coalition.

“Working together, we will increase public understanding not only of the systems themselves but also the benefits that come from investment and support. Water is key to nearly every component of our daily lives, including our jobs, our health and the environment that surrounds us.


The paper compiles new and existing research that underscores not only the needed investment in our nation’s water infrastructure, but also some of the attitudes Americans have toward this infrastructure. Titled From Invisible to Invaluable: Changing the Way We Think About Water Infrastructure, the research details the implications that the health of our water infrastructure holds for homes, businesses and local and national economies.

Each local job created in the water and wastewater industry creates 3.68 jobs in the national economy, while each public dollar spent on water infrastructure adds $6.35 to the national economy. These local investments are an important piece of the solution to our aging infrastructure, yet infrastructure investment on a national level is critical to avoid the deterioration of our water systems.

The investment in these systems nationally holds serious implications for the national economy: by 2020, failing to make the necessary investments would mean American businesses losing $734 billion in sales, the U.S. economy losing 700,000 jobs and each household paying $82 more per year for their water than they do today. The American Society of Civil Engineers puts the needed investment into water infrastructure at $1.3 trillion investment over the next 20 to 25 years.

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