Advocating for Water Infrastructure and a Better Future: The Creation of the American Business Water Coalition

October 5, 2023
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Wastewater Visibility News features guest author and water infrastructure advocate Mae Stevens, Chief Executive Officer of the American Business Water Coalition.

Every single business in the United States is at risk.

Why? Because businesses depend on our nation’s water infrastructure, a system that is greatly in need of adequate funding in order to serve the needs of today’s society. With challenges from disasters, climatic events, aging infrastructure, emerging contaminants, cybersecurity breaches, and more, greater funding will continue to be needed to protect water infrastructure—and, as a result, protect our nation’s economy.

While the government invested $55 billion in our nation’s water infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—the largest single water infrastructure investment in history—this amount is not nearly enough. Experts estimate that restoring existing water systems and expanding them to serve and protect a growing population will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years. In 2019 alone, water service disruptions resulted in a $51 billion economic loss for just 11 water-reliant industries. Without a dramatic increase in funding, businesses will continue to remain at risk of increasingly prevalent disruptions.

Creating the American Business Water Coalition

American Business Water Coalition on Wastewater Visibility News

The need for greater funding and support was the impetus for creating and launching the American Business Water Coalition (ABWC). ABWC was established to provide businesses with a platform to urge Congress and the Administration to increase federal investment in water and foster connections between these businesses and the utilities that serve them.

As the federal government provides less than five percent of water infrastructure investment, this leaves the other 95 percent of investment to come from businesses and the general public, which are increasingly unable to afford rising water costs. Due to these factors, currently, an estimated 83 percent of water utilities in the United States believe they cannot maintain a state of good repair without additional external funding. This critical problem leaves businesses and their customers in a state of perpetual and increasing risk.

Change is clearly needed, a reality reflected in high-profile cases in Jackson, Mississippi, and Flint, Michigan, as well as recent flooding in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and countless other states that have shown the serious, and, in many cases, deadly consequences of underinvestment in water infrastructure. In addition to threats to human health and safety, these water crises lead to significant disruptions to our daily lives and upend local economies. Without an increase in funding, the future will be uncertain.

The House has recently proposed reductions in federal water infrastructure spending. Without funds to address water issues, the needs of states will be unserved or underserved as lawmakers attempt to redirect too little money to too many projects.

ABWC’s main mission, therefore, is to advocate for change, strengthen the infrastructure that underpins the entire economy, and ensure access to safe, reliable, and affordable water for all. The coalition’s executive team will provide members with the lobbying, public relations, digital, social, and design services needed to advocate for modern, resilient water infrastructure. Once achieved, adequate investment would cause U.S. GDP to grow by as much as $4.5 trillion over 20 years and create an estimated 800,000 new jobs.

American businesses can be a leading voice on increasing investment in water infrastructure because they depend on it for their own economic prosperity, as well as for the health and quality of life of their employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate. Each business that joins the coalition adds power to the fight and helps cement a future where we all have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water.

Businesses and utilities interested in joining can reach out at www.businesswatercoalition.com

#FundWater

Related articles on Wastewater Visibility News: Louisville MSD Announces Founding Membership in National Water Coalition

About the Author

Mae Stevens CEO, American Business Water Coalition

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Mae Stevens has a combined eleven years of experience in the water infrastructure space – three and a half as a lobbyist and seven and a half years before that on Capitol Hill.

During her time on Capitol Hill, Mae focused on the intersection of water, equity, and affordability, and generally how to make cities and towns even better for the people who live and work there.

She also spent nine years working with various non-profit environmental organizations and think tanks. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post and Politico, and she was a featured guest on Fox Business News.


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