Saturday, March 23, 2013

Infrastructure Report Card: Wastewater: "D"

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

The 2013 Infrastructure Report Card, by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gives American wastewater systems a "D", reporting: "Pipes represent the largest capital need, comprising three quarters of total needs. Fixing and expanding the pipes will address sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer overflows, and other pipe-related issues."

(A WPA work crew installing a sewer line in Frederick County, Maryland, in December of 1937. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives)

During the New Deal, the WPA employed the jobless to (among other things) install storm and sewer lines. The WPA installed 24,000 miles of new storm and sewer lines, and repaired 3,000 miles of existing lines. That's enough pipe & drainage work to circle the Earth.

27 million Americans would like a full time job, but can't find one. Nearly 5 million Americans are considered "long-term unemployed" by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The current labor force participation rate in America is historically low. There is no WPA today. Few of our political "leaders" even discuss it.

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