Link to Public Health, Jobs and Economic Growth Cited in Both Documents
Alexandria, VA — The Water Environment Federation (WEF) applauds the Democratic and Republican National Committees for including support for water infrastructure in their party platforms adopted over the past two weeks.
The Republican Platform Committee, chaired by Governor Bob McDonnell (Va.), and the Democratic Platform Committee, chaired by former Governor Ted Strickland (Ohio), completed their deliberations in advance of the two recent national conventions. The Republican Platform was adopted August 28 in Tampa, Fla. and the Democratic Platform was adopted September 4 in Charlotte, N.C.
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.
Drinking water and wastewater systems in most major U.S. cities were built in phases over the past 100 years, and even the newest portions are frequently more than 30 years old. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently gave our nation’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure a D- grade. As these systems reach the end of their useful lives, cities are facing billions of dollars in construction costs to repair, replace, or upgrade these systems. Most of these 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 US 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% of voters rank clean water as the most important service government provides.
For more information on the party platforms, see the GOP Platform, We Believe in America, (pages 1 and 5) and the Democratic Platform, Moving America Forward, (pages 40-41, 34, and 49). WEF, its members and key water sector partners have been diligently working on a collaborative effort to raise awareness about this important issue to elected officials.
A new campaign and website geared towards highlighting the correlation between much needed water infrastructure and job creation is expected to launch later this week. The goal of the campaign is to help raise the profile of water and make it a part of the national conversation. Stay tuned to www.wef.org for the latest details.
Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 36,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. WEF members, Member Associations and staff proudly work to achieve our mission to provide bold leadership, champion innovation, connect water professionals, and leverage knowledge to support clean and safe water worldwide. To learn more, visit www.wef.org.