In communities in Arizona and across the country, drink-ing water and sewerage systems are straining under the weight of decades of federal government underinvest-ment. In recent years, the State Revolving Funds werefinanced at some of the lowest levels in history. For fiscal year 2008, Arizona received only $28 million, a mere 2.6percent of the $1.1 billion that the state’s water and sewersystems need.
As the troubles with our water infrastructure mount, thecountry’s economy slides deeper into recession. Arizona’sJanuary 2009 unemployment rate reached 7.0 percent, orabout 220,700 people, up from 4.4 percent a year earlier.One in 14 people in the labor force are now unemployed.
Investing now in water and sewer systems to gener-ate solid economic growth can lead the state out of therecession.
Every federal dollar invested in infrastructureyields a $1.59 return to our states
The National Utility Contractors Association estimates that for every $1 bil-lion spent on water infrastructure, nearly 27,000 jobs arecreated.
The economic stimulus legislation passed by Congress inFebruary 2009 provides more money to water infrastruc-ture than the country has seen in recent years, but thisone-time allotment cannot cure the problems plaguingmany communities. In fact, the bill provides water andsewer systems with less than one-third of what the Envi-ronmental Protection Agency estimates we should spendeach year just to maintain them.
Arizona’s Water Infrastructure Funding Gap:
Arizona’s water needs outpace its current ability to fundprojects by a large margin.For the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) pro-gram, the state’s most recent Intended Use Plan lists 187projects at a total cost of $572 million.
In 2008, the statereceived
only $23.1 million
in federal funding
— enoughto finance 4 percent of its needs.For the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which goes toward wastewater infrastructure, the state’smost recent Intended Use Plan lists 105 projects at a totalcost of $494 million.
In 2008, the state received $4.5million in federal funding
— enough to finance less than1 percent of its needs.Federal contributions to Arizona’s wastewater fundingefforts have decreased by 67.2 percent since the Clean Water SRF was fully implemented in fiscal 1991 and 79.3percent when adjusted for inflation.
ur nation’s water infrastructure and economy are bound together. Aidingthe former will help the latter. Unfortunately, these days, both are treadingtroubled waters.
Why Arizona Needs FederalFunding for Water Infrastructure