Invest in the Future
Building a national commitment for tomorrow's water supply
For some time there has been a growing consensus that there is an increasing need for new investments in water supply and treatment
facility projects as well as the rehabilitation of aging water infrastructure. The need for this investment comes at a time when the federal government is stepping back from its traditional role as a major, if not dominant, partner in the financing and building of water related infrastructure.
The period of large direct grants flowing from Uncle Sam to local water agencies
and utilities appears to be drawing to a close. The construction budgets of the
Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers as well as the Environmental
Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund continue to be
scaled back as the administration and Congress focuses the nation's financial
resources on other priorities. This raises the two questions of:
- How will this funding gap be filled?
- What role can and should the federal government play in
aiding the development of new water supplies?
The solution to this looming crisis is a new national priority
to support the financing of new water supply facilities. The technology is available to build coastal and brackish water desalination and to develop new water supplies with groundwater and water reclamation projects.
However, new water supply facilities can take five-to-ten years
to design, permit and build and pose a costly burden on local water agencies. Federal support will help stimulate the use of new technologies such as reverse osmosis, speed up the construction of new facilities and ultimately reduce the overall future costs for the development of much needed new supplies.
"If we could ever competitively, at a cheap rate, get fresh
water from salt water, that would be in the long-range interests of humanity
which would really dwarf any other scientific accomplishments."
--John F. Kennedy, 1962