In support of Infrastructure Week—May 14-21—I’d like you to consider a question:
You can’t see everything that goes on inside your body. If you were told that a part of your body had a problem that you couldn’t see, such as a torn muscle or a clogged artery, would you just ignore it, letting it get worse and causing more damage to your health? Of course not!
I ask this question to have you think about the state of our nation’s infrastructure. Much of our water and wastewater infrastructure, such as our pipes and valves, is “invisible” as we go about our daily life. However, just because we don’t see the issues doesn’t mean there isn’t problem. Across the country, our water and wastewater infrastructure is aging.
At the current level of replacement across the US, water pipes will need to last for over 150 years before being replaced. This is not a sustainable situation. It’s time for America to take aggressive action backed by transformative investments in order to stop a spiraling state of infrastructure disrepair that is putting our nation’s economic health as well as the safety and wellbeing of our residents at risk.
Just like taking steps to prevent or combat a life-threatening disease, the stakes in terms of infrastructure repair and building are incredibly high. Just looking at water infrastructure alone:
- America’s water and wastewater systems which in 2017 received a D and D+ respectively in the American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 infrastructure report card.
- The U.S. has a national investment gap of $82 billion per year to bring these water and wastewater systems up to par.
- An eight-day national disruption in water service would amount to a 1 percent loss in annual GDP, which is greater than the recessions of 1974 and 2008.
On the flip-side, the benefits are just as high if we can close this investment gap for water infrastructure. Doing so would potentially:
- Generate more than $220 billion in annual economic activity.
- Create 1.3 million jobs.
The longer Americans wait to address infrastructure issues, the bigger the gaps get and greater are the benefits that never get realized. The theme of this year’s Infrastructure Week really does say it all: “Americans are waiting, the future won’t, it’s #TimeToBuild.” It’s something that American Water takes to heart as evidenced by our $1 billion-plus annual commitment to investing in the health of our treatment plants and pipes.
Infrastructure Week calls on all of us to do our part by helping to generate awareness of key issues and their impact, expanding our own knowledge of how infrastructure affects our homes and communities, making our voices heard with our elected officials, and taking other actions that help mobilize others in the movement. Click here to learn more about Infrastructure Week and activities in which you can participate, and explore our website to see how American Water works to advance infrastructure progress every day.