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Local Government Makes Record-High Investments in Public Water & Sewer Infrastructure

November 26, 2019
U.S. Conference of Mayors. (PRNewsFoto/U.S. Conference of Mayors) (PRNewsfoto/U.S. Conference of Mayors)
U.S. Conference of Mayors. (PRNewsFoto/U.S. Conference of Mayors) (PRNewsfoto/U.S. Conference of Mayors)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Local government invested a record $125.5 billion in municipal water and sewer systems in 2017 according to the latest estimates released by the U.S. Census. The data demonstrates that local governments are making significant investments to upgrade and operate their water and sewer systems, provide basic service and achieve national clean and safe water goals. Local government relies on customer fees to generate the revenues needed to accomplish these goals, and the federal government has retreated from providing financial assistance.

While 2017 saw record-level investment in water and sewer infrastructure and services, gaps remain in the funding needed for increased investment to rehabilitate an aging infrastructure and manage expanding federal and state mandates.

“Local governments are responsible for 95% to 98% of total water and sewer utility infrastructure spending each year,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “The data shows that cities are doing their part, and now it’s time for the Congress and the Administration to do theirs through policies that increase federal financial assistance and regulatory flexibility. Mayors stand ready to work with Congress and the Administration to meet the challenges our country faces due to crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure.”

“Spending by local government on clean water and drinking water dwarfs the contribution made by the Federal government, who drives up cost with hundreds of unfunded mandates. Local government spending is only made possible by charging fees to local customers. Spending trends have reached the limits of what is affordable for many families and individuals and raises fundamental concerns about equity,” said Vice Chair of USCM’s Environment Standing Committee and Lima, Ohio Mayor David J. Berger.

Key findings from the census data include: (click here to see full report)

Earlier this year, the Conference developed five infrastructure priorities for the 116th Congress. The plan focuses on transportation, water, energy, and community development infrastructure along with tax reform around local infrastructure investment. The plan calls for a number of changes to modernize America’s water and wastewater systems, including:

About the United States Conference of Mayors -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.

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SOURCE U.S. Conference of Mayors