APWA Public Works Report Shows Benefit of Investing in American Communities
Washington D.C.— A new research study by the nation’s largest public works group finds American communities are benefiting with local, state and federal investment in water, surface transportation and emergency management. Yet the American Public Works Association’s examination says a greater economic benefit would be realized if funding more closely matched need.
“This important report shows just how essential the public works profession is in every community throughout the U.S.,” said APWA CEO Scott D. Grayson, CAE. “For surface transportation, water and emergency management, we now know the level of financial benefit of every dollar invested, and we know what the benefit could be if budgets at all levels of government came closer to actual need.
“Asset management technology is giving communities better insight about the health of their infrastructure, which is allowing them to schedule and fund maintenance projects and extend the life of roads, sewer systems and bridges. However, AM is also providing a clearer picture of what needs to be replaced now.”
Every $1 invested in transportation returns $5 in economic benefits, and every $1 billion supports and creates about 50,000 jobs, the report found.
Every $1 billion of capital investment in public transportation more than doubles business sales ($2.6 billion) and sparks a 20 percent increase in GDP ($1.2 billion), while a $1 billion investment in operations yields a threefold increase in business sales and a near double increase in GDP.
However, there is an $81 billion funding gap in total water sector capital expenditures. As a result, 2.1 trillion gallons of drinking water worth $7.6 billion is lost due to aging infrastructure. Lower production volumes will also result in 636,000 lost jobs annually by 2039.
“Public works teams keep the water flowing but in some communities duct tape and bailing wire no longer work, as this research shows,” APWA President Keith Pugh, PE, PWLF, said.
Should the U.S. increase its investment in water infrastructure by $109 billion a year until 2043, approximately 800,000 new jobs would be created and the increased reliability in water services would help consumers avoid $7.7 billion in medical costs, $2.6 trillion in losses caused by service disruptions, and $1.4 trillion in lost income.
Grayson and Pugh acknowledge the significant strides being made to rebuild transportation and water infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, IIJA.
“IIJA is the official acknowledgment our infrastructure needs more and better help,” Pugh said. “APWA, as we always have, are working with local, state and federal partners to ensure the historic act’s success.”
APWA’s report, in conjunction with National Journal, found that 85 percent more is spent on disaster recovery than for resilience against future hazards. In financial terms, that is $46 billion/year on cleanup and repair and only $7 billion to make sure community infrastructure withstands the next blow from mother nature.
The Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) program is the only source of federal funding provided directly to state and local governments for the functions which help build robust emergency management systems.
Grayson said it is an APWA policy priority to include more public works professionals at the federal table during the design and employment of emergency management programs.
The American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net) is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 30,000 members involved in the field of public works. APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, MO, has a government affairs office in Washington, D.C., and 63 chapters and 97 branches throughout North America.