Fixing U.S. Water Systems Will Create a Flood of Jobs
New Poll Finds Most Voters Support a Tax on Bottled Water and Soda to Fund Water Projects
Washington, D.C.—Addressing the $29 billion shortage in funds needed to upgrade and maintain water systems around the U.S. could create up to 750,000 jobs. Such community investment is the goal of Food & Water Watch’s Campaign to Renew America’s Water, which launched today, and aims to ensure a steady flow of cash to community water and sewer systems around the country.
“Many of our nation’s water systems were built over a century ago—at the same time that Henry Ford produced the first Model T,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “You wouldn’t expect anyone to rely on a car that old for their daily transportation, nor should you want the pipes that deliver your water to be equally outdated.”
Food & Water Watch’s Campaign to Renew America’s Water seeks to establish a consistent source of federal funding for drinking water and sewer systems so that communities never fall short of the funds needed to maintain and repair them. The campaign will also aim to fix school water infrastructure, build environmentally friendly water and sewer systems, and promote public control of municipal water.
Aging drinking water pipes lose 1.7 trillion gallons of treated water a year—enough to cover the entire state of Massachusetts with one foot of water. Meanwhile, sewage overflows and storm runoff led to 20,000 closures and advisories at beaches in 2008.
While the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act require that drinking water in the U.S. is safe, federal funding to these systems hit an all time low of_$689 million for sewer systems, and $829 million for drinking water systems in 2008. Since many communities cannot afford to repair their water and sewer systems on their own, in tight economic times, these repairs often go unmade.
Money to fund local water systems will come from a one-cent per ounce tax to manufacturers of water-based beverages such as bottled water and soft drinks. A poll released today by Food & Water Watch, finds that a majority of Americans want the bottled water industry and other peddlers of water-based drinks to pay for the damage they inflict on America’s drinking water. Sixty-three percent of voters surveyed said they favored the tax.
Conducted by Lake Research Partners, the survey interviewed 1,000 adults living in the United States from June 10 to June 13. Participants who supported this reform comprised a range of political leanings, ages, geographic locations, incomes, and levels of education.
“The bottled beverage industry is a major user and abuser of our nation’s water,” said Hauter. “It takes local water and sells it back to consumers for thousands of times its actual value, while draining local water supplies, and often times polluting what remains. It’s time they did their part and cleaned up the water from which they profit.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch)dot)org.