Renew America’s Water

Why Oregon Needs Federal Investment in Public Water to Provide Safe Water for Generations to Come
Fact Sheet • August 2010 regon’s public water systems have provided reliable access to drinking water and safe disposal of wastewater for decades, yet a crisis looms. When Congress passed the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure that our waterways were protected and our drinking water safe, they provided increased funding for community water systems to meet these more protective standards. However, since the 1980s, the federal government has been cutting back funding to communities for water infrastructure, with assistance falling to historic lows under the Bush administration. At the same time, many of our nation’s water systems that were built in the early 20th century are reaching the end of their lifespan. Without dedicated federal funding, communities simply cannot afford to make the necessary repairs to pipes and water systems that keep our waters clean and safe. This lack of investment in communities’ water infrastructure poses a danger to the environment and threatens the safety of our water for future generations.
The campaign to Renew America’s Water will create a dedicated source of federal funding, which will improve water quality, protect the environment, create good jobs and ensure safe, reliable water for generations to come. As a result, even after state contributions, State Revolving Funds fall $455 million short of what is needed to maintain Oregon’s water and sewer systems, leaving local governments with much of the financial burden. Additional funding is necessary to maintain and improve the state’s water quality. We need to act now to Renew America’s Water and close this funding gap.

Reliable Access to Safe Water Is Threatened
Oregon’s drinking water and sewer infrastructure needs dramatically outpace available funding. According to Oregon’s latest project priority list for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, the state’s public water systems need $44 million to keep our water safe.1 In 2010, the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans and grants to maintain safe drinking water, received $13.6 million in federal funding — enough to finance only 31 percent of what is needed.2 Oregon’s publicly owned wastewater systems need $456 million to protect water quality and public health.3 In 2010, the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, which goes toward wastewater infrastructure, received $23 million in federal funding — enough to finance 5 percent of what is needed.4

Protecting Our Beaches, Rivers and Lakes
Aging water infrastructure does more than threaten our future access to reliable drinking water — it also harms the environment in our communities. Aging sewer pipes can burst and spill untreated waste into our rivers, lakes and streams. This is a problem in communities across the state. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Oregon 2006 Water Quality Assessment Report, 67 percent of the state’s river miles, 97 percent of its lake waters, and 80 percent of the coastal shoreline assessed were impaired and too polluted to support their designated uses.5 Sewage overflows and stormwater runoff can also cause waters to be unfit for recreational use. Oregon had 26 closures and advisories at beaches in 2008.6 In addition,

analysis of beach monitoring data showed that 5 percent of samples in Oregon exceeded national health standards. In other words, the contamination could make beachgoers sick.7 Furthermore, leaks in our aging pipes lose water, even in parts of the country facing water shortages. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 1.7 trillion gallons of water are lost from distribution to consumer taps — equivalent to one out of every five gallons of drinking water.8 Increased investment in water and sewer systems will better protect our rivers, lakes, bays and beaches and reduce loss of treated drinking water through leaky pipes.

state and municipal governments, create hundreds of thousands of good jobs, and ensure universal access to clean drinking water for generations to come.

Take Action
Get involved in the campaign to Renew America’s Water. Visit us at www.foodandwaterwatch.org/renew to: • • • • Sign the petition and endorse the campaign Join our team of activists who blog or write letters to the editor about the campaign Host a house party movie screening about our water needs Find out more ways to get involved

Creating Quality Jobs and Investing in Our Future
Renewing America’s Water will not just provide universal access to water and an improved environment — it will also create hundreds of thousands of quality jobs at a time when our communities need it most. Oregon’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 10.5 percent with 206,300 people out of work.9 According to the National Utility Contractors Association, for every $1 billion spent on water infrastructure, nearly 27,000 jobs are created.10 Fully addressing the state’s annual water funding shortfall would generate 12,142 employment opportunities not only in the water sector but throughout the local economies that benefit from the increased employment. Therefore, every federal dollar invested in infrastructure yields a $1.59 return to our states.11 That could put one out of every 17 unemployed people in the state back to work.12 Water and sewer infrastructure jobs are typically filled locally, and investing now in water and sewer systems can generate solid economic growth and bring jobs into our communities.

1 2 3 4 5 Oregon Department of Human Services. “Summary Proposed Intended Use Plan – State Fiscal Year 2010.” June 4, 2010. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water. “Distribution of Drinking Water SRF Appropriation. 2010 DWSRF Allotment based on 2007 SWINSA Results.” January 15, 2010. State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. “Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program Proposed Intended Use Plan – State Fiscal Year 2010/Update #2.” May 6, 2010. FY 2010 Clean Water State Revolving Fund Title VI Allotments. January 15, 2010. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Watershed Assessment, Tracking & Environmental Results. “Oregon 2006 Water Quality Assessment Report Assessed Waters of Oregon by Watershed.” Available at: http://iaspub.epa.gov/waters10/attains_index. control?p_area=OR Dorfman, Mark and Kristen Sinclair Rosselot. National Resources Defense Council “Testing the Waters 2009: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.” National Resources Defense Council. 2009 at OR.5. Dorfman, Mark and Kristen Sinclair Rosselot. National Resources Defense Council “Testing the Waters 2009: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.” National Resources Defense Council. 2009 at OR.1. US Environmental Protection Agency. Water Research Adaptation Program: Research Areas. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/ wswrd/wqm/wrap/research.html. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economy at a Glance: Oregon. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/eag/ eag.or.htm National Utility Contractors Association. [Press Release]. “New CWC Report Demonstrates Immediate Economic Impact of Water/ Wastewater Infrastructure Investment?” January 28, 2009. Schwartz, Bernard L. and Schwenninger, Sherle R. “A Public Infrastructure–-Led Economic Recovery Program.” December 4, 2008; Zandi, Mark. Chief economist and co-founder, Moody’s Economy. com. Testimony on Economic Stimulus For Small Business: A Look Back and Assessing Need For Additional Relief. U.S. House Committee on Small Business. July 24, 2008. Food & Water Watch Calculation: 26,669 x 0.4553= 12,142; 12,142/206,300 = 5.89% or 1 in 17



Fixing Water Infrastructure in Schools
Schools across Oregon have outdated water pipes and drinking fountains that have fallen into disrepair. As a result, children do not have access to safe drinking water at school. Currently, there is no federal funding devoted to updating and repairing drinking water systems in schools. The campaign to Renew America’s Water would provide grants to schools to make the repairs needed to provide safe, affordable tap water to students.

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It’s Time to Renew America’s Water
To Renew America’s Water, we need a comprehensive, long-term solution that fully funds our water infrastructure needs. Funds must be dedicated for this purpose and protected from yearly political decisions. Legislation to Renew America’s Water must include funds to assist rural and low-income communities, help large municipalities and provide grants to improve water access in our public schools. Such an investment would relieve overburdened


For more information: web: www.foodandwaterwatch.org email: info@fwwatch.org phone: (202) 683-2500 (DC) • (503) 241-6556 (OR) Copyright © August 2010 Food & Water Watch

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