Essential. Reliable. Invaluable. Water—it’s the thread that weaves together our daily lives. It keeps our communities healthy, our cities running, and our economies growing. Water is a cup of coffee, the produce aisle, better production, increased exports, and greater American strength. While essential, water infrastructure is largely invisible. Few people realize what it takes to treat and deliver drinking water every day or how wastewater is cleaned so that it can be safely reused or returned to the environment. The high quality of life we enjoy in America would not be possible without water and the infrastructure that fuels it.
Yet, most Americans take water for granted. They turn on the tap, and clean water flows out. They flush the toilet, and dirty water goes away. Most Americans hardly think twice about the infrastructure that brings water to their homes, and safely returns water to our environment – but they should. While most Americans cannot imagine a day without water, there are many communities that have lived, and are living, without water because they don’t have access to safe and reliable water systems.
A day without water is a public health and safety crisis. It means no water to shower or flush the toilet, and no water to drink or cook with, no water to do laundry or dishes. A single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion in economic activity at risk and would make it impossible for doctors, firefighters, and farmers to serve our communities. Our water infrastructure supports every facet of our daily lives, but our water infrastructure is facing incredible challenges. Demographic and climate pressures, such as increased natural disasters, drought, flooding, and wildfire, threaten our infrastructure and increase the possibility of a day without water. These challenges look different to different communities and will require local solutions, but it’s clear that reinvestment in our water systems must be a national priority.
The good news is that closing our nation’s water infrastructure gap would generate over $220 billion in total annual economic activity, create and sustain over a million jobs, and guarantee our public health and environmental safety. Americans widely support increased investment in our nation’s water infrastructure. National polling shows 88 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild water infrastructure, and 75 percent of Americans want Congress to invest in our nation’s water infrastructure before our systems fail. No other issue facing our public officials has such a broad consensus.
Waco has long history of strong leadership on water issues. From the drilling of the first artesian well, to the building, rebuilding and enlarging of Lake Waco, and the introduction of innovative and advanced treatment processes, Waco’s leaders have consistently planned and prepared for the water needs of the community – a tradition of careful thought and bold planning that has carried on for more than a century and continues now. Back in 2016, the City of Waco began a Capital Improvement Program (CIP)—Building Waco—to renew and rebuild infrastructure necessary to maintain Waco’s quality of life, foster economic growth and increase long-term sustainability. Since then, the program has seen projects totaling more than $40 million completed, with $77 million of projects currently under construction and another $76 million in the design phase.