A water main break in San Diego left thousands of residents without water and the city scrambling to restore service several weeks ago, and as we have reported before on this blog, that incident is indicative of a growing problem facing cities across the country. In the month since we last wrote about water main breaks and leaky pipes wreaking havoc in Los Angeles, Denver, Tampa and Atlanta, numerous breaks have occurred in aging pipes elsewhere across the U.S., including New York City, Kansas City, Flint, Michigan and Salt Lake City, to name just a few. These incidents reveal the crying need for investment in replacing century-old pipes and modernizing treatment facilities. Two recently published reports reveal how this type of investment can mean significant gains for the economy.
A recent report by the Brookings Institution, entitled “Measuring Water’s Sizeable Impact on the Economy and Job Market,” shows that more than 700,000 U.S. workers are involved in designing, constructing, operating and governing water infrastructure. This workforce, the report shows, can help drive innovative solutions sorely needed across the country, stimulating economic growth in the process. The report sheds light on the significant contributions that infrastructure jobs make to the national and local economies. It also points out that since many of those jobs are projected to grow over the next decade, and offer more equitable wages and require less formal education for entry than other occupations, they represent a key area of consideration for policymakers aiming to address the country’s ongoing infrastructure and jobs deficit. For the full Brookings Institution report, click here.
Another recent report, published jointly by the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), called “National Economic and Labor Impacts of the Water Utility Sector,” similarly reveals the enormous economic importance of water investment. The report estimates that 30 utilities alone support 289,000 jobs and $52 billion in economic output through their annual spending. Across their operating and capital budgets, the report shows, these water utilities are expected to pump billions of additional dollars into managing and constructing a host of new projects during the next decade. Click here to read the WRF/WERF report.
Both reports show that investments in water infrastructure can provide not just short term fixes but rather long term, lucrative employment opportunities that will benefit our economy in the decades to come – more evidence that the funding CWC lobbies for every day is not only wise, but necessary.