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Water Report: Nation Has Lot to Learn from Milwaukee


Thursday, March 23, 2017   

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – A new report from the Value of Water Campaign outlines the major economic impact that investments in the nation's water infrastructure could have.

Many of the country's water and wastewater treatment systems and equipment have been in place for more than a century.

Milwaukee has undertaken a bold investment plan to update its systems, and Radhika Fox, director of the Value of Water Campaign, says the city is setting a positive example for the nation.

"And what's great about the infrastructure investments that Milwaukee is making is that they've done it in a way that is really also focused on opening up small business opportunities, making sure that Milwaukee residents work on these projects,” she points out. “So, the nation has a lot to learn from Milwaukee."

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that over the next decade, the U.S. needs to invest an additional $82 billion a year in water infrastructure.

Fox says her group is hopeful there will be bipartisan support for these investments in the Trump administration.

Bill Graffin, public information manager for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, says drinking water and sewage treatment systems are big priorities, but not the only ones that would benefit from infrastructure improvements in Wisconsin.

"You look at tourism, you look at what people spend on kayaks and boats and fishing gear, you've got to have clean water for people to want to be on the water,” he stresses. “Investments in clean water support over $86 billion in consumer spending on water-based recreation annually."

Fox says there are many reasons to get the work done, and a huge downside in failing to do it.

"A one-day disruption in water service represents a daily loss of $43 billion in sales and economic output,” she points out. “So, the benefits are great, but the cost of inaction is tremendous as well."

According to the report, closing the investment gap in water infrastructure would create more than a million jobs and generate 220 billion dollars in economic activity nationwide.
Tim Morrissey reporti

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