DULUTH, Minn. — Local community, labor and environmental leaders, including Duluth Mayor Don Ness, today marked the 40th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act and highlighted the work being done to water infrastructure in the Duluth area. Ness was joined by BlueGreen Alliance Jobs21! National Co-Chair Tarryl Clark; University of Minnesota-Duluth professor Mike Mullins; Jeff Daveau, Sr. from the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 11; and Dave Zentner, past national president of the Izaak Walton League of America and representative from the National Wildlife Federation, at a press conference in Canal Park. This week is the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act, which became law on October 18, 1972.
“Water infrastructure systems are critical and offer significant opportunities to create good jobs that strengthen our economy and our communities and safeguard our community’s health,” said Daveau, Sr. “The reality is that we must make significant investments and upgrades in order to adapt to the effects of climate change, maintain access to safe drinking water, and adequately treat storm and wastewater. And, while doing so, we can create good jobs, using American-made steel, iron and manufactured goods.”
Much of the water pipe around the country is between 40 and 100 years old. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave both the nation’s drinking water and wastewater a D- on the 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure — a dangerous combination. However, fixing this problem is an opportunity to create jobs for American workers. The benefit of meeting this need is that it can create thousands of jobs. Every $1 billion invested in water infrastructure is estimated to create more than 20,000 new jobs.
“The Clean Water Act has helped to clean up our lakes, rivers and local water supplies; it has better protected wildlife from pollution, and it helped to restore unhealthy water systems,” said Mullins. “By properly investing in water projects, we can create thousands of jobs that will strengthen our economy and communities and the middle class.”
The event also served as a state release for the BlueGreen Alliance’s policy platform on clean water entitled Clean Water, Good Jobs — a policy guideline that focuses on the public health, environmental protection and job creation potential in rebuilding America’s water and sewer infrastructure.
“Investing in water infrastructure has the potential to stimulate and support many economic sectors including construction, manufacturing, transport, and tourism,” said Clark. “It’s important that domestic sourcing provisions be part of plans to reinforce our water infrastructure. If we’re using tax dollars to rebuild our infrastructure, we should use American products made by American workers.”