Will you speak up for infrastructure investment?

To WEF and NACWA, government spending is good – if it aims to address key national priorities like water

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To some there is no dirtier word (or phrase) than “government spending.” Those who feel that way don’t like the word “investment” applied to government, because after all, that’s just another word for “spending.” Which also means (even worse), “taxes.”

Well, the Water Environment Federation and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies hove come out strongly in favor of words in President Obama’s State of the Union about government investment in infrastructure. They cited his focus on the role of infrastructure in a healthy economy, which in their view helps pave the way for “a renewed focus on the value of water and water infrastructure.”

The two organizations’ joint statement said, “WEF and NACWA are heartened by the President’s emphasis on economic recovery and climate change. Water considerations are essential to progress in both areas, and the organizations are encouraged by the potential to advance and improve the nation’s water programs. As seen in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, clean and safe water infrastructure is now squarely a key component of any national effort to address the impacts of climate change and ensure the resiliency of our communities going forward.”

They cited a new “Water Resources Utility of the Future…Blueprint for Action” report calling for a kind of utility “that recovers valuable resources from the treatment process, is a partner in local economic development, and a member of the watershed community seeking to deliver maximum environmental benefits at the least cost to the ratepayer...WEF and NACWA also share a position on climate change that underscores the clear need to create sustainable, resilient water facilities that can meet and withstand the impacts of extreme wet weather events.”

They also supported Obama’s “Fix It First” program aimed at putting Americans to work on the most urgent infrastructure repairs: “Both in terms of jobs created and public health protection, water infrastructure repair cannot be overlooked as the nation moves to rebuild its economy. Additionally, the President’s focus on manufacturing, innovation and jobs translates to the need to drive innovative solutions in water to create jobs and ensure a sustainable environment.”

What happens now? Progress against the President’s agenda will take voices – those of people in the water professions who see day to day the results of inadequate investment (sorry) in infrastructure. It will takes voices because there are millions of other voices that will scream “no more spending” and “no news taxes” until sewage backs up in their basement or a sinkhole the size of a baseball infield opens up in their neighborhood.

If people in the industry are not vocal and persistent advocates for the investment our infrastructure needs, then exactly who will be?


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