Our nation’s aging water systems—the pipes, treatment plants and storage tanks that deliver safe, clean water to our homes and businesses—are reaching a tipping point and must be replaced. Investments in water infrastructure will promote American innovation and competitiveness, create thousands of jobs in construction and manufacturing sectors, and ensure our communities have access to safe and reliable water systems.
OLD PIPES NEED NEW FUNDING
- Many U.S. cities rely on pipes that are over a century old. Water and sewer systems will need to be updated and expanded to accommodate population growth, since the Census Bureau expects 115 million more Americans by 2050.
- The EPA estimates that 700 water mains break every day, or nearly one every two minutes. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), leaking pipes account for an estimated loss of 7 billion gallons of water every single day.
- Outdated, corrosion-prone piping is a major cause of water main breaks. According to a congressional study, corrosion costs U.S. drinking water and wastewater systems over $50.7 billion annually.
- Aging pipes should be replaced at a rate of at least two percent each year. The current rate across the US is less than half that. At this rate, we will experience increasing numbers of breaking pipes and higher costs of repair. The ASCE estimates that at least $1 trillion is needed to address the problem.
THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
- The ASCE has given America’s wastewater infrastructure a “D” in its 2013 report card. Without urgent action, over half the nation’s pipes will fall into “poor, very poor or elapsed” categories by 2020, risking widespread failures and public health threats.
- A breakdown of water systems can result in water disruptions, impediments to emergency response, and damage to infrastructure—as well as unsanitary conditions, contaminated water, and health problems.
CRITICAL INVESTMENTS MEAN MORE JOBS
- Investments in water infrastructure provide significant economic benefits to the economy and enjoy a strong return on investment. Infrastructure projects create nearly 20,000 jobs for every $1 billion spent and The U.S. Conference of Mayors estimates that every job created in water infrastructure adds 3.7 jobs elsewhere. By incorporating Buy America provisions, we can ensure that these projects have an even larger impact on our economy.
- Quality construction and maintenance requires skilled workers who are familiar with sustainable technologies and water quality standards. That is why the UA Training Department spends over $270 million annually on training and skills updating for our members. We know that a well-trained workforce is essential to building infrastructure that delivers clean, reliable water to homes and businesses. UA members across the country install and maintain gray water systems, geothermal and hot water circulating systems, and rain water catchment and recycling systems—as well as fit non-corrosion prone pipes with leak-detecting sensors.
Investment in infrastructure will drive innovation, resulting in more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable water systems. It will also mean thousands of jobs for UA members who have the training and skills to build the next generation of projects.