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By Walker Foley and Liz Schuster, Food & Water Watch

Water is our most precious resource. It nourishes our bodies, sustains our crops and enables most aspects of our lives.

Despite its unequivocal value to the public, our national water infrastructure is crumbling. The EPA recently stated a daunting figure — $384 billion — is needed over the next twenty years to save our deteriorating drinking water systems. As federal grants have doled out only a paltry $15 billion for drinking water infrastructure in the last 16 years, this number is especially shocking.

Federal spending is drying up, too. Since 1977 federal spending on improvements to our water and sewer systems has declined by more than 80 percent (inflation adjusted).

Of course, these numbers add up to one thing for consumers — higher rates. In 2012 water rates increased by an average of 7 percent in 30 major US cities, but rose as high as 22 percent in Austin, TX, and 17.6 percent in Tucson, AZ, according to a Circle of Blue analysis. With water rates skyrocketing, federal spending dwindling, and water systems failing, it seems the future is dim on our current course.

It is not too late. We can encourage Members of Congress to support The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2013, H.R. 1877. This is an authorization bill that renews Federal investment in our nation’s water infrastructure through the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and direct loan and loan guarantee initiatives by investing $13.8 billion in SRF funds over the next five years. Additionally, it establishes a dedicated source of public funding through a Clean Water Trust Fund.

Now is the time to demand greater Federal investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure. This is why we must continue to call on the President and Congress to support a Clean Water Trust Fund.

This article was written by Walker Foley and Liz Schuster and published in Food & Water Watch on June 6, 2013.

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