In communities in California and across the country,drinking water and sewerage systems are straining underthe 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, California received only $115 million, a mere0.53 percent of the $21.8 billion that the state’s water andsewer systems need.
As the troubles with our water infrastructure mount, thecountry’s economy slides deeper into recession. Cali-fornia’s January 2009 unemployment rate reached 10.1percent, or about 1.9 million people
up from 6.1 percenta year earlier. One in 10 people in the labor force are now unemployed.
Investing now in water and sewer systems to generate sol-id economic growth can lead the state out of the recession.
Every federal dollar invested in infrastructure yields a$1.59 return to our states
The National Utility Contrac-tors Association estimates that for every $1 billion spenton water infrastructure, nearly 27,000 jobs are created.
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.
California’s Water Infrastructure Funding Gap:
California’s water needs outpace its current ability tofund projects by a large margin.For the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF)program, the state’s most recent Intended Use Plan lists4,087 projects at a total cost of $8.9 billion.
In 2008, thestate received
only $66.4 million
in federal funding
—enough to finance 1/135
of its needs.Federal contributions to California’s drinking waterfunding efforts have decreased by 12.2 percent since theDrinking Water SRF was implemented in fiscal 1997 and34.6 percent 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 California Needs FederalFunding for Water Infrastructure
Federal Funds for California’s Drinking WaterState Revolving Fund from Fiscal 1997 to2008 (in Millions of Dollars)Federal Funds fo California’s Clean WaterState Revolving Fund from Fiscal 1991 to2008 (in Millions of Dollars)