RCAP on the State of the Union address

February 2, 2011 | General RCAP News

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, President Obama called for “rebuilding America” through renewed investment in our aging infrastructure. In so doing, he highlighted the key role that infrastructure plays in our national economy. Investing in infrastructure, he said, “will make America a better place to do business and create jobs.”   RCAP applauds President Obama’s call for rejuvenating the economy through renewed investment in infrastructure and believes it is especially important in rural communities, where the need for affordable infrastructure solutions is greatest.   Infrastructure is not just the visible roads and bridges that we all travel on every day. It also includes even more vital networks of water pipes, pumps and other equipment, as well as the knowledge to operate and manage these networks. Although this vast infrastructure is mostly hidden, every resident of our nation depends on it multiple times every day, even more than a highway or rail system.   Water infrastructure in rural America is on the verge of crisis. As the president mentioned in his speech, the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report grading our nation’s infrastructure and gave it a “D.” Water infrastructure managed to score even lower: “D-,” the lowest of any infrastructure category. The EPA estimates that America’s rural communities face $100 billion in needs for water and wastewater infrastructure. Rural communities cannot be left to face these challenges alone.   Federal leadership and support for renewed investment in rural infrastructure is vital to reinvigorate rural economies and help small communities thrive. A study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors observed that each job created in the local water and sewer industry creates 3.68 jobs in the national economy to support that job. The study further notes that every dollar of public investment in water infrastructure increases private long-term GDP output by $6.35. By creating jobs in and attracting capital to economically distressed small communities, renewed investment in rural infrastructure will stimulate local economies and improve the quality of life in rural communities across the nation.   RCAP stands ready to partner with rural communities to help them take full advantage of programs offered by federal agencies to develop, upgrade, operate or maintain their water and sewer infrastructure, as well as any other opportunities that arise to improve the quality of life in rural America. RCAP will also work to ensure that the federal government gets a good return on its investment by leveraging funds to maximize the fiscal capacity of rural water systems and put them on a path to sustainability. RCAP is eager to work with the president and Congress on their efforts to rebuild rural America through investments in rural infrastructure.