WASHINGTON -- A community letter signed by more than 130 business leaders from across America is asking elected officials to increase investment in water infrastructure as Congress negotiates the 2021 budget year before a Dec. 11 deadline, Environment America announced Monday. The House package includes an additional $11 billion for water infrastructure projects. However, the Senate package fails to increase funding levels for EPA Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.
“Healthy waterways make our communities healthier,” said Environment America Clean Water Advocate Laura Miller. “Whether it’s through farming, tourism or recreation, clean water impacts all our lives. That’s why business leaders are speaking up. They recognize how aging infrastructure leads to sewage overflows and stormwater runoff, two major sources of water pollution. If we want to continue enjoying everything from fishing and paddling to good beer, smart community leaders recognize this problem must be solved now.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that wastewater and stormwater systems will require an investment of $271 billion over the next 20 years to meet demands. Updating America’s water infrastructure, through projects such as fixing leaking sewage lines and preventing stormwater runoff, can lead to cleaner water that businesses rely on.
"To protect our businesses and our environment, and to fuel economic activity, America needs a powerful federal investment in water infrastructure,” said Colton Fagundes, who helped circulate the letter and is policy manager at American Sustainable Business Council. “Failure to do so will equal increased water pollution and flooding and more costly and unreliable water utility services, harming businesses across all sectors. Conversely, making the necessary investments will create needed jobs in both gray and green at infrastructure construction, and create a beneficial economic ripple effect across the whole economy"
Modernizing water infrastructure can have further benefits when green- and nature-based infrastructure are prioritized. These are often cost-efficient, effective and resilient ways of reducing pollution.
“Clean water is an essential raw material for our business and critical for the long-term vitality of our industry,” said Mandi McKay, director of social responsibility with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. who signed the letter. “Beyond our company, we’re asking Congress to include robust funding for resilient infrastructure to ensure safe, affordable and readily available water, which is fundamental to the health and sustainability of every community.”
Support for federal investment in water infrastructure spans across ideological and partisan lines. Whether business leaders support clean water funding to brew good beer, lead safe boat tours, or simply for the inherent value of clean water to society, their broad base of support is clear.
“This is a chance for Congress to bridge the growing political divide and invest in clean water,” Miller said. “The health of our waterways, and our country, depend on it.”