ADVOCATES PUSH FOR BIG FEDERAL INVESTMENT IN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

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By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

March 26, 2017 (Sacramento) -- The U.S. is drastically underfunding water projects, putting communities at risk for a catastrophic failure, according to a new report from the U.S. Water Alliance.

Advocates for better water infrastructure are flooding Washington, so to speak, for Water Week 2017.

The report found that the U.S. is only funding one-third of water infrastructure needs.

And the nation’s drinking and wastewater system recently earned a D grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Radhika Fox, director of the U.S. Water Alliance, says the proper investment would be a boon to the economy.

"If we were to close that investment gap, we would drive economic growth in this country,” she states. “The report found that closing that infrastructure gap would create over 1.3 million jobs."

The report notes that 40 years ago, 60 percent of the nation’s water projects were funded by federal dollars. Now that figure is just 9 percent, with most of the money coming from local levies.

Fox says she is optimistic that Congress will fund more water projects this year, as both parties have voiced support for a major infrastructure bill.

She notes that even though the Golden State has gotten some much-needed rain, conservation projects remain essential.

"The investments that California is trying to make around re-use and having that broadly utilized across the state is really helping stretch our very limited water supply," she states.

The U.S. has seen multiple major water disasters in recent years in Flint, Mich.; Toledo, Ohio; and in the Florida Everglades.