Mar 17, 2011

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Praises Texas for Leadership in Water Planning

Chamber hosted event to discuss Texas' plan for the future of water infrastructure

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined with the Texas Assn. of Business, Austin Chamber of Commerce and Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Texas this week to discuss the steps Texas is taking in water planning to meet future demands. Part of the U.S. Chamber’s “Invest in Water” initiative, the event highlighted the leadership Texas is demonstrating to prepare for significant changes in water infrastructure.

“Texas is emerging as a role model for the rest of the country when it comes to facing water issues head on,” said Shannon Meade, counsel and director of Research in Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs at the U.S. Chamber. “Typically it takes a catastrophe before states focus on water infrastructure. But Texas realizes a strong economy is dependent on reliable, clean and safe drinking water, and it’s taking the necessary steps to avoid problems before they start.”

Texas has a water planning process in place that takes a regional approach looking at projected needs for fifty years. In that time, the Texas population is expected to nearly double. Ongoing dialogue across the state has included significant measures to promote conservation, invest in infrastructure and develop more capacity.

This week’s event in Austin is the latest in a series of targeted regional events the U.S. Chamber is hosting nationwide that addresses a full range of water cycle issues. The “Invest in Water” initiative launched last November in Somerset, N.J., focusing on aging water infrastructure. In May, the Chamber will address the growing connection between energy and water with an event in Los Angeles.

“Today’s discussion is just part of our efforts to bring to light what has long been an issue pushed to the back of the line,” Meade said. “By bringing together leaders from both government and the business community, we are confident that we can find solutions to improve our nation’s water infrastructure while growing the economy at the same time. The fact of the matter is Texas has a water plan while most states don’t.”

The majority of the water infrastructure America relies on today was installed after World War II, yet some cities have pipes dating back to the 1800s. Much of this equipment needs to be repaired or replaced. The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that nationwide up to a $1 trillion investment is needed in drinking water and wastewater systems over the next two decades.