In communities in Texas 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, Texas received only $98 million, a mere 8.1percent of the $1.2 billion that the state’s water and sewersystems need.
As the troubles with our water infrastructure mount, thecountry’s economy slides deeper into recession. Texas’sJanuary 2009 unemployment rate reached 6.4 percent,or about 756,100 people
up from 4.4 percent a year ear-lier. One in 16 people in the labor force are now unem-ployed.
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.
Texas’s Water Infrastructure Funding Gap:
Texas’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 77projects at a total cost of at least $451 million.
In 2008,the state received
only $67.1 million
in federal funding
–enough to finance 14.9 percent of its needs.Federal contributions to Texas’s drinking water fundingefforts have decreased by 4.3 percent since the Drink-ing Water SRF was implemented in fiscal 1997 and 28.7percent when adjusted for inflation.
For the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which goes toward wastewater infrastructure, the state’s
ur nation’s water infrastructure and economy are bound together. Aidingthe former will help the latter. Unfortunately, these days, both are treadingtroubled waters.