Thursday, October 23, 2014

An old water main breaks in San Francisco and threatens a hospital. A WPA could have prevented that.

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
This past Tuesday, October 21st, a 107-year-old water main broke and reduced water pressure to parts of San Francisco General Hospital. The break was just one of the probable 600-700 breaks that occurred that day in America (see the "Drinking Water" section of the 2013 Infrastructure Report Card).

The American Society of Civil Engineers noted in 2013 that "Significant investments are still needed to address renewal and replacement, maintenance, security and reliability for (California's) water infrastructure."

Republican political strategist Matthew Dowd recently wrote: "...we need to have a well-paying jobs program tied to infrastructure improvements administered locally by cities, counties and states where people still trust government to get the job done. And this should be funded by tax policies at the federal level which put a much bigger burden on the wealthy in this country."

During the New Deal era, the WPA--a federal program--provided funds for locally administered infrastructure projects. In California, for example, WPA workers installed 1,198 miles of new water lines.

Wouldn't it be great if we created a new WPA, and installed another 1,198 miles of new water lines in the Golden State? (Statistic from the Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43)

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