Dec 30, 2008

NGWA Urges Obama to Include Water Infrastructure in Economic Stimulus

Letter to Obama from NGWA recommends securing fresh water supply

In a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) recommends an economic stimulus package with water infrastructure projects addressing the long-term challenge of securing an adequate supply of fresh water, including groundwater.

The letter was sent to Obama December 18, and his administration’s stimulus package is expected to be unveiled soon.

“In 2003, 36 state water managers told the U.S. Government Accountability Office that they anticipated local, regional or statewide freshwater shortages over the next 10 years under normal conditions. Population growth, changing development patterns and projected climate change will only compound the challenge,” said NGWA Executive Director Kevin B. McCray, CAE.

“An approach to consider that could be quickly implemented is to give funding priority under applicable federal water infrastructure funding programs to ‘shovel ready’ projects,” McCray said.

NGWA suggested projects that:
• Invest in infrastructure to monitor the nation’s groundwater resource;
• Assist existing small groundwater-supplied household and community water systems to remain viable, independent water supplies that help maintain the water balance;
• Augment groundwater recharge and storage in areas of the country where groundwater resources have been strained by urban sprawl or agricultural uses;
• Spur development of renewable energy developments, specifically geothermal heat pumps; and
• Rehabilitate or replace current water transmission and distribution lines to substantially improve sustainability of the nation’s water supply and reduce energy consumption.

Existing federal water infrastructure programs under which such programs fall include the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Program, the USDA’s Rural Housing Program, the Bureau of Reclamation water programs, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Water Program, and the U.S. EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 106 Monitoring Grants.

“Prioritizing the above shovel-ready projects not only injects a short-term stimulus into the economy but pays long-term dividends,” McCray said. “These projects will improve our nation’s water security, conserve our ground water resources, bring safe drinking water to economically challenged areas, provide energy-savings, and offer employment opportunities for ground water professionals and others, many of whom are struggling with the economic downturn.”