Making water infrastructure a priority
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Even though it is invisible to most Americans, every community across this country relies on a complex system of reservoirs, aqueducts, dams, levees, treatment plants, pumping stations, and millions of miles of pipes forming our water infrastructure.

For decades, most Americans haven’t given much thought to our water systems, not worrying where water comes from when we turn on the tap, or where it goes after it swirls down the drain.

Now years of deferred maintenance are catching up with us, and the cost of inaction could be severe.

On Capitol Hill, the latest legislation to improve our nation’s water systems is something we can all get behind.

Both Democrats and Republicans know that water is vital to America’s economy and our quality of life.

For businesses, a disruption in water service could be catastrophic.

A new economic analysis from the Value of Water Campaign found that a one-day nationwide disruption in water service would result in $43.5 billion in losses for the economy. That is just a single day, and the damage would be widespread. Farms to factories, hotels to hospitals, and ranches to restaurants – everything would shut down without water service.

Improving our water infrastructure must be a priority for all of Congress.

Doing so will put Americans to work in jobs that can’t be automated or outsourced overseas. In fact, experts suggest a $1 billion infrastructure investment would create tens of thousands of jobs and help put Americans back to work.

Communities across the country are already dealing with our aging water infrastructure. We’ve seen failing dams in California, ice-jam floods in Wyoming, record flooding from storms along the east coast, and water contamination in the Midwest.  

This is everyone’s issue, and addressing it is a shared responsibility.

The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee continues to move this issue forward by holding bipartisan hearings on the nation’s water infrastructure needs.

One of the things we hear is that rural and urban water systems, and everything in between, all need attention and investment. Clean, safe water is essential to larger cities like Baltimore and Oklahoma City, as well as smaller communities like Cody, Wyoming, or the town of Wyoming, Delaware.

The president has voiced his support for improving the nation’s water infrastructure, and we are ready to work with his administration to move the ball forward. It’s still early in the process, but we are committed to working together to upgrade America’s water system.

Federal investment in water infrastructure has dropped over the past few decades, with more states and localities picking up the costs. We can’t just leave this burden to state and local governments. Washington has an important role to play. 

This is Water Week, and it is a great opportunity for us to recognize the vital role water plays for our nation.

Everyone – every home, every business – needs reliable and safe water. It is time to make water infrastructure a national priority.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances Trump pick for EPA No. 2 | Pruitt questions ‘assumptions’ on climate | Dems want Pruitt recused from climate rule review Senate panel advances Trump pick for No. 2 official at EPA MORE (R-Wyo.), is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump states would bear brunt of gas tax increase: conservative groups Trump talk riles advocates on both sides of gas tax Senate bill would let EPA implement global greenhouse gas deal MORE (D-Del.) is ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.) is chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinWashington puts Ethiopia's human rights abusers on notice Overnight Defense: Mattis vows Dreamers in military won't be deported | Pentagon unsure if military parade will be in Washington | Dem bill would block funds for parade Dems introduce bills to block funds for Trump's proposed parade MORE (D-Md.) is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.