September 2012: The Case for Fixing America’s Water Infrastructure

The breakdown of water infrastructure in the U.S. is making headlines. Recently, we’ve come across articles with messages that resonate with reports on America’s water crisis posted in our March and April editions.

Want Jobs? Fix America’s Water Crisis

“The most urgent deficit America needs to resolve right now is our job deficit. And fixing our infrastructure — especially the systems that keep our water safe and clean — is one of the best ways we can put people to work,” writes Jeremy Hayes in his recent Huffington Post article, “Want Jobs? Fix America’s Water Crisis.”

Hayes works as the Chief Strategist for State and Local Initiatives at Green For All, a U.S.-based organization “working to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.”

He makes a compelling case for the common sense logic behind fixing the U.S.’s crumbling water infrastructure as a way to boost the economy and create jobs. He goes further to argue that when cities embrace green water infrastructure they can reduce stormwater runoff and pollutants, protect groundwater, improve air quality, and even increase property value.

Water Companies Need to Increase Infrastructure Investment

Meanwhile in Iowa,  the president of the state’s largest investor-owned water utility is making a case for the continued need to maintain and improve a system of aging pipes in his op-ed,  “Water Companies Need to Increase Infrastructure Investment.”

Randy A. Moore, president of Iowa American Water, writes, “The time has come for us as a nation — community by community — to commit to adopting strategies to renew our water infrastructure.”

The approximately $10 million a year that Iowa American Water invests in their water systems helps ensure the continued stability of other infrastructure, such as transportation, roads, homes and businesses.

Echoes Down the Pipe Line

Moore echoes some of the warning from the report on America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge featured in our April 2012 edition. He emphasizes the fact that postponing investment in updating an aging water infrastructure system ultimately increases the expense of repairs.

On a brighter note, Moore also represents, in real-time, some of the solutions suggested by the Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure highlighted in the March 2012 Whole HOG.  An investor-owned water utility like Iowa American Water relies on private, market-based financing mechanisms that can better support local, customer-supported water solutions.

These local water solutions can improve efficiencies, including green infrastructure, closed-loop systems and water recycling, and, as Hayes suggests, create jobs.

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April 2012: Buried No Longer – America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge

Buried No Longer: Report on America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge

American Water Works Association (AWWA) has issued a report, Buried No Longer: America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge, intended to bring the conversation about water infrastructure- the network of aging pipes through which U.S. household water is distributed – above ground.

Read the report: Buried No Longer: America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge.
After compiling a comprehensive picture of the nation’s water pipe inventory, AWWA has created an in-depth analysis of the nation’s water infrastructure renewal needs. And they’ve assigned a $1 trillion dollar plus price tag to it for the next 25 years.

Here’s a summary of what they’ve found:

1. The Needs Are Large.

2. Household Water Bills Will Go Up.

3. There Are Important Regional Differences.

4. There Are Important Differences Based on System Size.

5. The Costs Keep Coming.

6. Postponing Investment Only Makes the Problem Worse.

While the AWWA’s report offers data-filled analysis showing the extent of maintenance and repair necessary to maintain the U.S. water system, they stop short of offering solutions for financing these infrastructure investments.

So, how might one pay for a national investment of such scale?

We suggest a revisit to the report on financing sustainable water solutions, which offers a glass half-full perspective with tangible ideas on dealing with the cost of a leaky water system that loses six billion gallons of water each day. Find a summary in our March edition.


Read the report: Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure.