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Clean Water

Clean water is essential for life.  It’s also vital to business.  And it’s at risk across our country. ASBC is taking action because our companies, our consumers and our economy depend absolutely on reliable, ample supplies of clean water.  To meet this non-negotiable need, both environmentally sustainable practices and major overhauls of water infrastructure are required. The longer we delay, the fewer our options, the worse our disruptions and the higher our costs will be.

Restoring our water infrastructure is an essential investment.

Business as well as public health depends on our water infrastructure: clean water delivery systems, stormwater capture and wastewater treatment facilities.  American companies rely on municipal and private water systems to produce and manufacture everything from energy to food and beverages. Even firms that don’t need water to make their products need it to fulfill their day-to-day functions, including keeping their employees healthy and productive.

But our country’s water infrastructure is severely deteriorating. Some elements are over a century old; others are substandard, and all are neglected due to lack of adequate Congressional funding. In 2013, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the U.S. drinking water infrastructure a “D” grade for overall quality.  Nationwide, about 240,000 water main breaks occur every year. The American Water Works Association says that to maintain U.S. drinking water service at current levels will take an estimated $1 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next 25 years.

If we don’t address this problem, ASCE says our water infrastructure’s degradation alone will result in $147 billion in increased costs to businesses due to higher water rates, 700,000 jobs lost due to the resulting squeeze on company budgets, and $416 billion in lost GDP due to increased costs and loss of worker productivity. ASCE says these losses will occur by the year 2020. This deterioration – and resulting costs -- will only get worse the longer we delay.

Environmentally sustainable water practices are good business.

Half a century after the landmark Clean Water Act -- legislation regulating pollutant discharges into the waters of the U.S. – the water quality of many lakes, rivers, and streams is impaired or unknown. Loopholes in the Clean Water Act have let industrial, agricultural and other polluters dump waste into many small streams and tributaries across the U.S. without fear of prosecution. In many cases, these loopholes have made it impossible for the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect America’s communities and ensure access to clean drinking water.

Poorly controlled pollution plus deteriorating water infrastructure are dangerous enough, but adding the extra burden of ever-increasing floods, drought, and other extreme weather incidents mean America’s clean water supplies are threatened as never before. And so are our businesses, communities and economic opportunities.

All levels of government must take decisive action now, with environmental policies that strongly protect our water supplies and significant investments that restore and modernize our water infrastructure. To spur action, ASBC is bringing together a variety of business leaders to urge government to reduce water pollution, improve water infrastructure, and help businesses be more resilient to floods and droughts. Our goal: To give government a more accurate view of “what business wants” and a better understanding of why regulations supporting clean water also support a vibrant economy. To join our efforts, endorse the Clean Water is Good For Business principles, and then learn about ASBC’s regional campaigns, below.

Clean Water is Good for Business – New England

ASBC’s Clean Water is Good for Business campaign in New England offers targeted education and training for business leaders to become clean water policy advocates in the northeastern U.S. region. Since America’s earliest days, farming has been an essential part of New England’s economic development, but unsustainable agricultural practices and deteriorating infrastructure have created severe water quality problems. Our efforts in New England will convene businesses to discuss policy solutions that address some of the region’s toughest challenges.

Clean Water is Good for Business – Mississippi River Valley

ASBC’s Clean Water is Good for Business campaign in the enormous, pivotal Mississippi River Valley involves seven very different states: Minnesota, Louisiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois. Our work here brings together a broad variety of business leaders to advocate for reduced nutrient (fertilizer) pollution throughout this large region’s waterways and better water infrastructure in these states. Businesses and business organizations across the region have worked together, leveraged their expertise about specific sub-regional issues, and developed recommendations for state and federal policies to solve water-related problems in this huge and fertile region.