Smart Infrastructure Investments Will Boost Jobs, Quality of Life


Water. What could be more important and fundamental to our health, and our lives? Clean water is the lifeblood of our communities, yet our nation’s water infrastructure — our drinking water and wastewater systems, dams and levees — are woefully outdated.

Consider:

  • According to the EPA, an estimated 1.8 million to 3.5 million people get sick from recreational contact with sewage from sanitary sewage overflows every year.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers gives water and wastewater systems a D-, the lowest grade of any infrastructure category.
  • In 2006 the EPA found that only 28 percent of the nation’s stream miles were in good condition.

Fortunately, the economic recovery package moving through Congress contains critical investments for drinking water and rivers that will transform the way our country manages water, bringing health, safety and quality of life benefits to all Americans.

We can’t afford to waste money on old, 19th century infrastructure approaches. Instead, we need to invest in green, 21st century solutions.

Green infrastructure incorporates natural systems that can help supply clean water, reduce polluted runoff, reduce sewer overflows, minimize flooding and enhance community health and safety. It means planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant. It means restoring floodplains instead of building taller and taller levees. And it means retrofitting buildings and homes with water-efficient plumbing instead of constructing an expensive water supply dam.

These solutions save money and create good jobs. For example, an economic analysis conducted by the Alliance for Water Efficiency estimates that a direct investment of $10 billion in water efficiency programs can boost U.S. employment by 150,000 to 220,000 jobs.

Communities across the country are already benefiting from green infrastructure solutions:

  • New York City’s $600 million investment in Catskills land protection and restoration saved $6 billion in capital costs to construct a water filtration plant, as well as $200-$300 million in annual operation and maintenance costs.
  • By using wetlands, trees and residential modifications to reduce stormwater flows into their combined sewer system, Indianapolis is able to reduce the diameter of a new sewer pipe, saving over $300 million, while also beautifying the city.
  • Clayton County, Georgia constructed a wetland system to receive treated wastewater and recharge reservoirs, and has had a consistent supply of water through the recent drought. While surrounding communities had severe water restrictions and saw reservoirs drop below 50 percent capacity, Clayton County never dipped below 77 percent of reservoir capacity.

Americans want to make sure our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Investing in green infrastructure is the way to go because these approaches are cheaper, more effective, and solve multiple problems. These green solutions will not only create good jobs here at home, they will also give us safe clean water supplies, healthier rivers for recreation and wildlife, more attractive communities and an overall higher quality of life.

  • By using wetlands, trees and residential modifications to reduce stormwater flows into their combined sewer system, Indianapolis is able to reduce the diameter of a new sewer pipe, saving over $300 million, while also beautifying the city.
  • Clayton County, Georgia constructed a wetland system to receive treated wastewater and recharge reservoirs, and has had a consistent supply of water through the recent drought. While surrounding communities had severe water restrictions and saw reservoirs drop below 50 percent capacity, Clayton County never dipped below 77 percent of reservoir capacity.

    Americans want to make sure our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Investing in green infrastructure is the way to go because these approaches are cheaper, more effective, and solve multiple problems. These green solutions will not only create good jobs here at home, they will also give us safe clean water supplies, healthier rivers for recreation and wildlife, more attractive communities and an overall higher quality of life.

    Learn more:

    About green infrastructure

    Green infrastructure in economic stimulus