Push for water, energy stimulus dollars begins

Plumbing, environmental and energy efficiency groups are clamoring for billions of dollars in federal infrastructure funds that they hope to get from the Obama Administration.

Washington — Plumbing, environmental and energy efficiency groups are clamoring for billions of dollars in federal infrastructure funds that they hope to get from the Obama Administration.

As President Barack Obama and Congress craft a federal stimulus package aimed at creating five million jobs, environmental groups are encouraging congress to use water efficiency and energy efficiency programs to stimulate the economy.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is urging Obama's transition team to consider the short-term and long-term benefits of investment in water efficiency. The AWE prepared a position paper titled “Transforming Water: Water Efficiency as Stimulus and Long-Term Investment,” showing how water efficiency programs yield jobs, water savings and other economic benefits and will be a cost effective investment to consider for a stimulus package.

Some of the major findings of the report are:

  • Direct investment on the order of $10 billion in water/energy efficiency programs can boost U.S. Gross Domestic Product by $13 to $15 billion and employment by 150,000 to 220,000 jobs. It could save up to 10 trillion gallons of water, with resulting energy reductions as well.

  • Water and energy efficiency programs can be rapidly deployed and scaled to need. The paper provides a formula to use for scaling jobs to amount of investment.

  • Some of the best opportunities for conservation investment are in lower-income areas where water distribution infrastructure has not been adequately maintained or replaced and where household and commercial appliance stocks tend to be older and less efficient.

  • The long-term strategic, economic, social and environmental benefits of a water and energy efficiency program make them “no-regret” investments in the nation's future.

  • Investing in water and energy efficiency programs now will, over the longer term, help advance national energy policy, promote sustainable resource use, contribute towards green house gas emissions reduction, and lessen mounting regional conflicts over water resource.

The paper can be downloaded from the AWE Web site at: www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/Obama_Transition_Team_Consults_AWE.aspx

Meanwhile, the water utilities are urging the President and Congress to fix the nation's leaky pipes.

The American Water Works Association is urging Congress to include funding for drinking water infrastructure projects in the stimulus legislation.

Today, more than $10 billion in drinking water infrastructure projects around the nation are shovel-ready and can be underway as soon as funds are committed, AWWA said. These projects would put more than 400,000 Americans to work on aging water mains, leaking pipes, treatment plants, pump stations, storage reservoirs, elevated tanks, security safeguards and other needs.

“As Congress again considers legislation to stimulate the economy, the nation's drinking water utilities stand ready to create immediate jobs and lasting economic benefits through investment in water infrastructure,” said Tom Curtis, AWWA's Washington-based deputy executive director.

Much of the country's water infrastructure was constructed between 80 and 100 years ago, and is nearing the end of its functional lifespan. A 2001 study by AWWA estimated the cost of replacing existing pipes over the next two decades would top $250 billion. Additional information on the impact of water infrastructure funding is available at www.awwa.org/jobcreation.

On the energy efficiency end, the Alliance to Save Energy, Edison Electric Institute, Energy Future Coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council have released proposals ranging from low-income home weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits for homes and commercial and government buildings, to strengthened national model building energy codes, enhanced product efficiency standards and energy efficiency investments by utilities.

More on the energy programs being proposed can be found at www.ase.org/content/news/detail/5280

Some firms are already profiting from investments in energy efficiency and infrastructure. In early January, the Department of Energy announced the award of 16 new Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Energy Savings Performance Contracts that could result in up to $80 billion in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects at federally owned buildings and facilities. The federal government is the largest single user of energy in the U.S.

“This set of awards will ensure that federal agencies have access to powerful tools for alternative financing at a scale that is needed to meet our challenge of reducing energy intensity, increasing the use of renewable energy, and decreasing water consumption,” U.S. DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said.

Seattle-based mechanical giant McKinstry Co. became one of 16 service companies to receive a DOE Energy Savings Performance Contract. President Obama singled out McKinstry during the election campaign as an exemplar of 21st century cutting-edge, energy-saving and alternative energy firms.

Doug Moore, McKinstry president noted, “We've built a reputation on delivering energy efficiency and renewable projects, and we recognize the important role energy has in the new economy. We believe this award to be an important first step in the greening of America through energy efficiency, and we are pleased to be part of this effort.”