Mayors Worry About Water Infrastructure
Aging water infrastruction, water supply availability, flooding, drought management, regional conflict over water use–mayors across the United States are worried that funding shortfalls will not allow them to fix these everyday problems or prepare to handle catastrophic events.
The concern is based on results of the National Urban Water Resources Survey announced by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, led by Conference President and Long Beach, California Mayor Beverly O’Neill, along with Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, Chair of the Conference of Mayors Urban Water Council.
The alert is based on a survey of 414 cities, which was conducted prior to the recent hurricanes. The survey results show that everyday issues like maintaining, replacing and building water infrastructure remain critical challenges for cities.
Although cities have been extremely active in committing their own funds to major capital investments in water and wastewater infrastructure, there is still a tremendous need for additional infrastructure investment.
Mayors are also concerned about protecting people and property from catastrophic events like natural disasters including floods, storms and hurricanes, as well as securing water systems from man-made disasters like terrorism.
“Hurricanes Katrina and Rita make apparent the devastating impact that water can have on a community. We have seen first-hand how water can wipe out entire communities,” O’Neill said. “That is why this water survey is invaluable because it tells us what cities really need.”
Most alarming is a city’s challenge to provide adequate water supply, particularly with aging water infrastructure and questions about how to finance future water infrastructure investment. The survey shows that nearly 40 percent of the cities surveyed will not have adequate water supply in 20 years.
Additionally, dealing with Congressional unfunded mandates remains a serious problem for mayors. Currently major funding is directed toward water legislation and regulation instead of infrastructure improvement where it is sorely needed. This has left many cities unprepared for man-made and natural disasters, as witnessed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“It is time for this country to focus more attention and resources to find common sense solutions to rebuild our crumbling and aging water infrastructure,” said Chavez.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.