February 23, 2009
With all the talk of stimulus packages and government funding of infrastructure projects lately, I got to thinking: what kind of impact will all of this new money have on our water systems?
Countries all over the world are firing up their printing presses and planning huge injections of cash to fund public works projects as a means of creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Much of that money has been earmarked for badly needed public infrastructure, including roads, public transportation systems, airports, and yes, even pipes, pumps and reservoirs.
That’s all good news for those of us who know how badly the world needs better water infrastructure. But there is even better news. A recent study by the Alliance for Water Efficiency estimates that for every million dollars spent on water efficiency in the United States, we can not only save as much as 10 trillion gallons of water, but also create about 220,000 jobs and increase economic output by as much as $2.8 million.
That makes investing in water efficiency its own fiscal stimulus plan. What kind of investments are we talking about? Some of the ideas are simple, water-saving devices: high-efficiency toilets, clothes washers, dishwashers and faucet aerators. Others are more involved, like smart irrigation, real-time efficiency monitoring, cooling tower retrofits, leak detection and energy efficiency audits.
The benefits to industry are widespread. From agriculture to manufacturing, even financial services. That’s why the authors of the report refer to water investment as “no regret” investments.
The study is specific to the United States, but the same scenario is playing out across the world. Thirsty nations cannot grow, and neither can thirsty businesses. So even the most libertarian among us can get behind this kind of investment.