News Feature | January 28, 2014

Water Spending Seen As Key To Job Creation

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

waterinfrastructurereg

Tackling the problem of aging water infrastructure and pouring investment into the water industry could pay off by boosting the economy and creating new jobs.  

That's according to a recent opinion piece in Grist by Brendan Smith, a former construction worker and cofounder of the Labor Network for Sustainability, Kristen Sheeran, an economist and director of the E3 Network, and May Boeve, the executive director of 350.org.

Meeting the $18 billion need for water and gas line repairs would create more than 300,000 total jobs across all sectors, according to the piece. 

"We can [put] people back to work without breaking the climate. We can do all this by tackling the national crisis of aging infrastructure — repairing things such as crumbling water mains and leaking gas lines that are critical to our communities and our economy," the editorial said. 

The op-ed, based on a study called "An Alternative Job Creation Strategy," focused on investment in water policy as more effective way to boost the economy than forging ahead with the controversial Keystone Pipeline. 

The Water Environment Foundation (WEF) is also looking to boost awareness about the job creation benefits of water investment with its campaign titled "Water For Jobs.”

The campaign points not just to jobs that could be created through infrastructure investment, but also potential job losses if the government fails to make needed investments.

"As the gap between needs and investment grows, the impacts on jobs, lost business sales and GDP worsens. Unless the investment gap is addressed by 2040, 1.4 million jobs could be at risk," the campaign says. 

In addition, the campaign points out that failing to invest in water infrastructure could raise costs in the long run. 

"Postponing needed infrastructure investment raises the overall cost and increases the likelihood of water main breaks and other infrastructure failures," it states.   

Image credit: "Dahla Dam visit 11 June 12," © 2012 USACE Afghanistan Engineer District-South, used under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

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