When you think of infrastructure, what comes to mind? Most often it’s roads, bridges and public transportation, but buried beneath our feet is a complex network of pipelines and valves that deliver water for public health and safety.
AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company will once again participate in United for Infrastructure 2020, formerly Infrastructure Week, September 14-21, 2020. The goal is to raise awareness about the need for investment in U.S. infrastructure and the importance of infrastructure to the nation’s economy, workers and communities. United for Infrastructure is a nonprofit organization led by a Steering Committee consisting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Value of Water Campaign and National Association of Manufacturers, among others.
“I take great pride in working for a manufacturing company that supports our nation’s infrastructure,” said ADIP/ASWP Marketing Services Manager Maury D. Gaston. “Our products contribute to public health through clean water, to public safety through fire protection, to economic strength through energy production and to agriculture and mining through machinery. These products built and continue to build the U.S. and the world.”
The theme for United for Infrastructure 2020 is Rebuild Better, which highlights the role of essential infrastructure workers during the pandemic and focuses on building infrastructure that helps communities thrive. The organization reports that every $1 invested in infrastructure generates $3.70 in economic growth.
According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Water Environment Federation, the U.S. currently has approximately 800,000 miles of water pipes and 700,000 miles of wastewater pipes. The average age of these pipelines is 60 to 130 years, and they are reaching the end of their service life. The most recent ASCE Infrastructure Report Card graded our drinking water infrastructure a “D” and our wastewater infrastructure a “D+.”
A 2020 report from the ASCE and Value of Water Campaign on the economic benefits of investing in water infrastructure found the U.S. needs to invest a total of $109 billion annually over the next 20 years to close the water infrastructure gap. These investments would not only protect the nation’s water systems, but also generate more than $220 billion in annual economic activity and create 1.3 million jobs. The report also found that the top issues for utility professionals remain renewal and replacement of aging water and wastewater infrastructure, and funding for capital improvement projects.
Water and wastewater utilities are also facing financial challenges in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AWWA and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies estimate that drinking water utilities will see a negative financial impact of $13.9 billion by 2021 due to revenue losses and increased operational costs during the pandemic.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies estimates that the resulting financial impact on wastewater utilities will be even higher, around $16.8 billion. These financial challenges related to the pandemic are in addition to the financial strains water and wastewater utilities were already facing to upgrade and invest in their infrastructure.
So where do we go from here? The ASCE and Value of Water Campaign’s report found a growing need for a coordinated investment at the federal, state and local levels. Initiatives such as United for Infrastructure, Imagine a Day Without Water and others all raise awareness about the need for investment and the risks to public health and safety if nothing is done.
United for Infrastructure Executive Director Zach Schafer, said, “The state of America’s infrastructure is one of the nation’s most pressing issues. As the country falls deeper into a recession, we know that investing in infrastructure can play a crucial role in our recovery, creating both short-term and long-term jobs that support middle-class families and allow communities to thrive. When we invest in infrastructure, we invest in ourselves.”
To learn more about United for Infrastructure 2020, visit unitedforinfrastructure.org.