The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is encouraged that the White House has recognised the critical need to invest in the country’s aging water infrastructure. Water infrastructure impacts all United States (U.S.) citizens, as it protects public health and the environment, as well as drives the economy. In fact, closing the investment gap in water infrastructure would generate more than US$220 billion in annual economic activity and create 1.3 million jobs over 10 years.
The release of the White House’s proposal marks an important starting point for what should be a bipartisan effort in Congress to provide the necessary new tools and increased funding for water infrastructure. WEF believes that Congress should also maintain essential funding for core water infrastructure and support the significant role of federal agencies in ensuring clean and reliable water.
WEF would also like the infrastructure package to:
- Provide meaningful additional assistance to states and local governments as they work to fund and manage infrastructure projects in their jurisdictions
- Build resilient water infrastructure so communities can withstand the impacts of climate change, including severe storms, flooding, drought, and sea level rise
- Enable increased innovation in the water sector, such as water reuse, energy generation, and nutrient recovery
- Promote workforce development to deal with labour shortages and pending retirement boom through training, internship, apprenticeship, and career pathway programs.
WEF will focus on infrastructure funding as a key topic during Water Week 2018, where it will join several water associations to communicate the value of water and advance water priorities on a national level. The 2018 National Water Policy Fly-In will take place during Water Week that is set to take place from the 17th to the 18th of April 2018 in Washington, D.C., U.S., and will offer attendees the opportunity to hear from federal officials, members of Congress and Congressional staff, advocacy professionals, utility experts, and more.
“We are at a pivotal time, with aging and inadequate water infrastructure in desperate need of repair and expansion to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities for water in the 21st century,” Eileen O’Neill, Executive Director of WEF, said. “We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress on a legislative package that addresses our nation’s pressing and long-term water infrastructure needs.”