In communities in New Mexico 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, New Mexico received only $11 million, a mere2.5 percent of the $463 million that the state’s water andsewer systems need.
As the troubles with our water infrastructure mount,the country’s economy slides deeper into recession. New Mexico’s January 2009 unemployment rate reached 5.1percent, or about 49,000 people
up from 3.7 percent a year earlier. One in 20 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.
New Mexico’s Water Infrastructure Funding Gap:
New Mexico’s water needs outpace its current ability tofund projects by a large margin.For the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) pro-gram, the state’s most recent Intended Use Plan lists 16projects at a total cost of at least $19.7 million.
In 2008,the state received
only $8.1 million
in federal funding
—enough to finance less than half of its needs.Federal contributions to New Mexico’s drinking waterfunding efforts have decreased by 36.2 percent since theDrinking Water SRF was implemented in fiscal 1997 and52.4 percent when adjusted for inflation.
For the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which goes toward wastewater infrastructure, the state’smost recent Intended Use Plan lists 58 projects at a totalcost of $443 million.
In 2008, the state received $3.3million in federal funding
— enough to finance 1/135
of its needs.
ur nation’s water infrastructure and economy are bound together. Aidingthe former will help the latter. Unfortunately, these days, both are treadingtroubled waters.