April 1, 2021, Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, President Joe Biden introduced The American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion proposed infrastructure investment plan for the United States. The plan, framed as a jobs investment and post-pandemic rebuilding strategy, calls for spending on water, energy, transportation, and communications infrastructure, as well as research and development. The water infrastructure actions include removing all lead pipes and service lines; upgrading drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems; monitoring and remediating emerging drinking water contaminants; and ensuring dam safety.
“Investing in the nation’s water infrastructure is long overdue, and the President’s new plan is a strong step in the right direction,” says Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president emeritus of the Pacific Institute.
There is a critical need for capital investments in water infrastructure to modernize operations, address deferred maintenance, and build climate resilience. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a “D” grade to the nation’s water infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that $743 billion of investment in water and wastewater infrastructure is needed over the next 20 years just to meet existing environmental and health standards. “With its $111 billion commitment to water infrastructure spending, Biden’s proposed plan will help start to close this huge funding gap,” says Cora Kammeyer, Senior Researcher at the Pacific Institute.
The plan emphasizes the need to make all the nation’s infrastructure, including water infrastructure, more resilient to the impacts of climate change. There is a strong focus on supporting and protecting the communities most vulnerable to climate impacts – including communities of color, rural communities, and Tribal communities. “In just the past year we’ve seen people in Texas and Jackson, Mississippi losing water access due to infrastructure not holding up against extreme weather, and we saw millions of lives put at risk and millions of dollars of damage caused by the Midland, Michigan dam failure – it’s not an overstatement to say that water infrastructure investments are a matter of life and death,” says Kammeyer.