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United Water Calls For Action To Improve America’s Water Systems On World Water Day

United Water is demonstrating its support for cities in several ways. United Water, in partnership with investment bank KKR and the City of Bayonne, NJ, recently initiated its new SOLUTION SM model to address the city’s water infrastructure needs. United Water is cooperating with financers and municipalities to bring the SOLUTION SM model to other cities. SOLUTION SM has the additional benefit of helping cities improve their credit rating.

Bayonne Mayor Mark A. Smith credited SOLUTION SM as a major reason for the first upgrade in five years of the city’s bond rating. Moody’s Investors Service, in March, upgraded Bayonne from Baa1 with negative outlook to Baa1 with stable outlook. This change makes it cheaper to for the city to make investments that help its economy grow.

One million miles of water mains crisscross the United States – some of them laid before the Civil War. Another 800,000 miles of sewer pipes date largely from post-World War II. Much is beyond the end of its useful life. The ASCE report says every month communities face 20,000 main breaks. Every year, 900 billion gallons of raw sewage (or how much water flows over Niagara Falls in two weeks) spill from overwhelmed systems into our rivers and oceans.

Bringing water mains up to standard, alone, will cost $1 trillion over the next 25 years. Federal support for water infrastructure, which began 40 years ago with the Clean Water Act, is now a trickle. The Congressional Budget Office says more than $300 billion needs to be invested in sewage collection and treatment over the next 20 years to keep our waterways safe and clean. The ASCE report notes this is twice the current levels of investment by all arms of government – federal and local. Declining Congressional appropriations have averaged just $2.1 billion annually over the past five years. The ASCE said failure to act will put 1.4 million jobs at risk by 2040 and undo decades of improvement to public health standards.

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