The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) invested $55 billion in our nation’s water infrastructure, the largest single investment in history. However, this investment is not enough to bring our nation’s water systems into a state of good repair – the American Water Works Association estimates that restoring existing water systems and expanding them to serve a growing population will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years, and this does not take into account emerging challenges like increasing drought in the west; floods in the East, Midwest and South; and new contaminants like PFAS.
Further, Congress is not even close to funding water infrastructure programs at their fully authorized levels. Roughly $20 billion in investments in water infrastructure were authorized but not appropriated in IIJA alone.
This funding shortfall is putting water utilities, as well as the companies and communities they serve, in a bind. In fact, only about 17% of utilities are confident that they can adequately maintain their systems, let alone upgrade them to prepare for emerging risks, without increased outside investment.
On the other hand, adequate investment in water infrastructure would cause U.S. GDP to grow by $4.5 trillion over 20 years and create 800,000 new jobs.
The business community must engage in the fight for increased federal investment in water infrastructure. Engagement is a win-win proposition: the water sector will benefit from a strong business voice highlighting the economic opportunities, and businesses will be supported with the certainty that they can rely on their local water infrastructure.