Food and Water Watch: Mayors Have Opportunity to Protect America's Water at Annual Meeting
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 23, 2008
CONTACT: Food and Water Watch
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Mayors Have Opportunity to Protect America's Water at Annual Meeting
WASHINGTON, DC - January 23 - Today mayors from around the country gathered at the 76th
annual Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC to discuss their "new national
infrastructure agenda." Citizens, consumers, and mayors called on the
Conference to support increased federal funding for public water.
"Mayors across the United States have the opportunity today to take
leadership in protecting our country's water by addressing our aging water
systems," states Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. Many
cities are currently experiencing the unfortunate consequences of
under-funded and poorly maintained infrastructure, and the nation's water
system - although less visible - is facing a similar problem. "America's
water is a public responsibility that should be given a steady and reliable
source of funding to keep water clean and safe for all communities," Hauter
According to the Food & Water Watch report, Clear Waters: Why America Needs
a Clean Water Trust Fund, federal government contribution to total clean
water spending has shrunk dramatically, from 78 percent in 1978 to just 3
percent today. States spend approximately $63 billion annually to
compensate, but their efforts barely keep pace with current needs, let alone
future ones. Without sufficient federal money driving the process, states
must pick and choose from often hundreds of needed maintenance and
improvement projects - a burden that is also felt at the municipal level.
"A trillion gallons of untreated sewage end up in our nation's waterways
each year due to under-investment in water infrastructure," stated
Councilmember Joanne Watson from Detroit. "Resources like the Great Lakes,
national treasures and drinking water sources for millions of people, are at
risk. Communities are already making 96 percent of investments; it's time
for the federal government to contribute."
Mayor Theresa Estness from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, also agrees that while
states and communities are making tremendous efforts to handle their clean
water needs, the problem is too big for them to handle alone: "The federal
government is leaving communities high and dry when it comes to funding our
water infrastructure. Eighty six percent of Americans support a dedicated,
sustainable pot of public funds for public infrastructure. We have trust
funds for highways, airports, and other national priorities - why not clean
A clean water trust fund would provide a steady, reliable, and equitable
source of funding for needed projects across the country, according to Food
& Water Watch. By sidestepping the contentious federal government
appropriations process, a trust fund would safeguard clean water
infrastructure for years to come.
Some leaders at the Conference may be calling for expanded private
investment. But many communities that have experimented with water
privatization have found that it does not solve their water woes.
"Our privately owned water system, which already charges higher rates than
public systems, is asking for a 60 percent rate increase," stated Mayor
Laurel Prussing of Urbana, Illinois. "Corporate ownership leads to higher
rates, poor customer service, and lack of accountability. We should send a
message to the federal government: Water is a public responsibility and must
be managed in the public trust."
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer rights group based in Washington,
DC that challenges the corporate control and abuse of our food and water
resources. Visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.