Americans say its #TimetoBuild Water Infrastructure of the 21st Century

Danielle Mayorga, The Value of Water Campaign | May 19, 2017

Too often we don’t value what we don’t see. Or so we at the Value of Water Campaign thought was the case with invisible water and wastewater infrastructure. Until we received the results of a recent poll we commissioned that found that water is actually a top priority for most of Americans above any other issue.

The Value of Water Campaign brings together top leaders in the water industry—from water providers, water reliant businesses, and nonprofit organizations—to educate and inspire the nation about how water is essential, invaluable, and in need of investment. Our goal is to bring the invisible pipes, pumps, and treatment plants that bring clean water to and from homes and businesses into the public light.

While unfortunate that it took high-profile water crises like historic drought in the West or the crisis in Flint, MI to bring water to the forefront of our minds, this poll shows that Americans are aware of the challenges facing our infrastructure and are ready to take collective action.

The poll found that two-thirds of Americans want Congress and the Trump Administration to focus on infrastructure investment—compared to 56 percent for tax reform, 49 percent for increasing funding for defense, 42 percent for repealing and replacing Obamacare, and even less support for other hot-button issues like the Keystone XL Pipeline or building a wall on the border with Mexico.

Even more, 82% of American voters believe that rebuilding crumbling water infrastructure is very or extremely important. And these are opinions held by overwhelming majorities across the political spectrum, including 79 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents, and 85 percent of democrats. Rebuilding water infrastructure is something that everyone should have a stake in, which is why the Value of Water Campaign is committed to bringing together diverse interests—public and private, rural and urban, bipartisan—to build public and political will for water infrastructure investment.

And what better time to share these findings than during Infrastructure Week, as hundreds of leaders from business, labor, government, and national associations convene in Washington DC and across the nation for a week of events, media coverage, education, and advocacy efforts to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting all Americans. So much of the narrative around infrastructure centers on transportation, highways, and energy. While important, without reliable water and wastewater infrastructure in place, these other services that we rely on daily would not exist. That’s why we need to look across all modes of infrastructure for opportunities to make it better, faster, and stronger.

Americans know its #TimetoBuild. The findings from this national poll should be a call to action on Capitol Hill in DC, in all 50 state legislatures, and in city halls across America to reprioritize our water and wastewater infrastructure. Utilities are ready to invest, but they can’t go at it alone. They’ll need a range of funding and financing options from low-cost loans and grants to public-public and public-private partnerships to make timely, vital upgrades that meet the needs of the communities they serve and keep rates affordable. Americans have spoken—now it is on us to innovate, invest, and act.