An increase in water infrastructure funding is needed to protect the nation’s businesses and local economies, says a new report from The American Business Water Coalition (ABWC). The coalition’s Business Impact Fact Sheet, “10 Extreme Water Disasters in 10 days shut down local economies across the nation,” lists water infrastructure failures directly connected to extreme weather and business loss in or surrounding major metropolitan areas in all regions of the country between the dates of Jan. 14 and Jan. 23.
Key events highlighted in the report include the following:
- Memphis, Tennessee was placed under a boil water advisory between Jan. 18-23 following numerous water main breaks, impacting 600,000 people and wreaking havoc on businesses, many of which had to cease or significantly alter operations.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania suffered several large water main breaks following freezing temperatures, resulting in extreme street flooding and water shut-offs between Jan. 22-23 for 80 affected properties.
- Metairie, Louisiana, the largest community in Jefferson Parish, placed 250,000 residents and all businesses in the community under a boil water advisory on Jan. 23 following a massive break of an 80-year-old water main. Grocery stores, hospitals, schools and other businesses were forced to limit services or cease operations until the advisory was lifted on Jan. 25.
Currently, federal funding accounts for only 5% of all nationwide investment in water infrastructure. Restoring the country’s water systems to meet our current needs will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years—without taking into account the impacts of climate change or future threats like PFAS. Without a dramatic increase in federal investment, every business and community in America is at risk, with real-world effects showcased in this report.
“This startling report only scratches the surface of what is happening in our country as a result of underfunded water infrastructure,” said Mae Stevens, chief executive officer of the American Business Water Coalition. She believes these events will continue to happen at a faster rate if more investments in water infrastructure aren’t made. “Every business, no matter how big or how small, is dependent on water to operate. We are past due for this to be made a priority.”
To download the entirety of the ABWC report, please click here.