Water for Jobs: It's a Way of Life
By Karen Pallansch
April 26, 2013
The following are excerpts from Karen Pallansch’s closing remarks at the April 16 National Water Infrastructure Summit held in Washington.
When it comes to our water infrastructure, we certainly face regional and individual challenges. Yet we share a common goal in enabling clean and safe water for everyone. Collectively, we know how important water infrastructure is to the physical and fiscal health of our nation … and the people, businesses and jurisdictions each of us who spoke today proudly serve 24/7, 365 days a year.
We know that modern and dependable water infrastructure is a crucible for economic growth. It plays a vital role in driving prosperity, enabling a healthy community and creating jobs both in the short term and long term. … We all have a stake in that outcome; we must take steps together.
We know that replacing and refreshing our out-of-date water infrastructure will create jobs in a variety of economic sectors — such as research, engineering, construction, technology and manufacturing — and also emerging green industries that help us save on energy costs and be more sustainable. We know that our future utilities won’t look like they do today; they will manufacture miracles of energy, nutrients and other yet to be discovered opportunities from what we think of as, well, something to flush and forget, instead of as a sustainable resource for investment.
Investing in our water infrastructure can move the job-creation needle in the right direction … and that fact should be a major part of any national conversation about current and future economic
strength and prosperity. We need to keep the narrative of the importance and value of our water infrastructure fresh and compelling … and constant, not just among those of us that make this our day’s work but among those that can help us make a difference, from right here on Capitol Hill all the way to our neighbors and families.
At Alexandria Renew [Enterprises], I view our water infrastructure as this great taproot that helps nourish the economic activity above. It helps the city of Alexandria [Va.] to flourish … it helps it to create an overwhelming majority of good middle-class jobs in our profession as well as related industries. Businesses take a hard look at infrastructure, including reliable water infrastructure, when deciding where to locate. They look at health, safety and service. I know that you join with me in the belief that great communities need and deserve great water infrastructure and great water quality. One cannot exist without the other.
Our water infrastructure— the lifeblood of our businesses, our families, our America —is being compromised by a lack of focus, a lack of understanding, and a lack of commitment and desire to take a stand and make water our national priority. “Water for jobs” is not a bumper sticker for the water industry but something in which we passionately believe … and strive to achieve. Water for jobs means investing not just in jobs … but also investing in our families, in our communities … and in a better future for our country.