Renew America’s Water

Why Colorado Needs Federal Investment in Public Water to Provide Safe Water for Generations to Come
Fact Sheet • October 2010 olorado’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.

Reliable Access to Safe Water Is Threatened
Colorado’s drinking water and sewer infrastructure needs dramatically outpace available funding. According to Colorado’s latest project eligibility list for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, the state’s public water systems need $1.9 billion to keep our water safe.1 In 2010, the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund program, which provides low-interest loans and grants to maintain safe drinking water, received $24.1 million in federal funding — enough to finance only 1 percent of what is needed.2 Colorado’s publicly owned wastewater systems need $2.4 billion to protect water quality and public health.3 In 2010, the state’s Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund program, which goes toward wastewater infrastructure, received $16.5 million in federal funding — enough to finance less than 1 percent of what is needed.4 As a result, even after state contributions, state revolving funds fall $4.3 billion short of what is needed to maintain Colorado’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.

Protecting Our 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 Colorado 2008 Water Quality Assessment Report, 14 percent of the state’s river and stream miles, and 46 percent of its lake, reservoir and pond waters 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. 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.6 Increased investment in water and sewer systems will better protect our rivers and lakes and reduce loss of treated drinking water through leaky pipes.

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 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. Colorado’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 7.9 percent with 209,000 people out of work.7 According to the National Utility Contractors Association, for every $1 billion spent on water infrastructure, between 20,003 and 26,669 jobs are created.8 Fully addressing the state’s annual water funding shortfall would generate up to 114,061 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.9 That could put one out of two unemployed people in the state back to work.10 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 . Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Drinking Water Revolving Fund 2010 Project Eligibility List.” December 11, 2009. Office of Water, United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Final State Allotment of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2010.” September 15, 2010. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund and Domestic Wastewater Treatment Grant 2010 Project Eligibility List.” December 16, 2010. Office of Water, United States Environmental Protection Agency. “FY 2010 Enacted Final CWSRF Allotments.” January 15, 2010. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Watershed Assessment, Tracking & Environmental Results. “Colorado 2008 Water Quality Assessment Report Assessed Waters of Colorado by Watershed.” Available at: http://iaspub. epa.gov/waters10/attains_index.control?p_area=CO, accessed October 18, 2010. US Environmental Protection Agency. Water Research Adaptation Program: Research Areas. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/wqm/wrap/ research.html, accessed September 30, 2010. Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. Economy at a Glance: Colorado. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.co.htm, accessed October 18, 2010. PA Consulting Group. Clean Water Council. “Sudden impact: An assessment of short-term economic impacts of water and wastewater construction projects in the United States.” June 8, 2009 at 6. 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 4.27692 = 114,061; 114,061/209,900 = 54.34% or over 1 in 2

6 7 8 9

Fixing Water Infrastructure in Schools
Schools across Colorado 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.

For more information: web: www.foodandwaterwatch.org email: info@fwwatch.org phone: (202) 683-2500 (DC) • (415) 293-9900 (CA) Copyright © October 2010 Food & Water Watch

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful