AWWA Calls on Federal Government for Financial Commitment

April 17, 2000
The report, Clean and Safe Water for the 21st Century, spurred AWWA to again call for federal government action to address the nation's growing water infrastructure crisis. "Though the national water infrastructure is over four times larger than the federally funded national highway system, the federal government has made no commitment to help rehabilitate it," said AWWA President Steve Gorden. "The WIN report makes clear that such an approach will not only impact our public health, but consumer pocket books as well." The report projects drinking and wastewater facilities will need to invest nearly $1 trillion in treatment plants, distribution systems and wastewater collection systems over the next 20 years. However, investment by utilities is falling $23 billion short annually due to expensive treatment and technology upgrades needed to comply with increasing federal regulations. If federal funding is not made available to help combat this shortcoming, the report suggests that water and sewer rates across the country will "more than double." The WIN report also provides historical evidence of the federal government's commitment to other national infrastructures, such as the dredging of regional waterways by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the construction and expansion of the nation's highway system during the 1950's and 1960's. AWWA has been working for over a year to raise awareness about the implications of the water infrastructure crisis for utilities, consumers and general public health. The WIN, which consists of several organizations including AWWA, the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, as well as stakeholder groups such as the National League of Cities, is the most comprehensive attempt to present the infrastructure problem to the federal government. "This report makes the serious impacts of ignoring our water infrastructure crisis crystal clear," concluded Gorden. "Without prompt action from the federal government, paying a water bill will soon make those impacts obvious to consumers."

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