Analysis Reveals SRFs Return Billions on Federal Investment

Federal spending for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) returns economic gains and jobs, according to a new economic benefits analysis released by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and WateReuse Association (Alexandria, Va.).

The analysis, WEF/WateReuse Analysis of National Economic, Job Creation, and Tax Revenue Benefits from Increased Funding to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, examined the effect of increased funding for the SRFs. It revealed that the requested $34.7 billion in federal SRF spending would generate $102.7 billion in total economic output and create more than 500,000 U.S. jobs.

“SRFs are widely acknowledged as one of the most successful infrastructure funding programs, yet the resources needed to maintain and upgrade our systems remains out of sync with current investment levels,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “This report shows that water and wastewater infrastructure is a sound and wise economic investment that also provides immeasurable returns for public health, the environment, and our future.”

Based on an assumption that the proposed $34.7 billion in allocations — $14.7 billion for drinking water and $20 billion for clean water — would be spent over 10 years, beginning in 2017, the analysis reports that the investment would result in

  • $7.43 billion in federal tax revenues for federal SRF spending;
  • $32.3 billion in federal tax revenue, or $0.93 for every dollar spent when leveraged with state SRF program funds;
  • An average of 16.5 jobs created for each million dollars of SRF funding, resulting in 506,000 new jobs for a $34.7 billion federal investment; and
  • $2.95 million in U.S. economic output for every million dollars of SRF spending, resulting in $102.7 billion in total economic output for the $34.7 billion federal investment.

The organizations used the economic model IMPLAN to determine the estimated economic output, labor income, jobs, and federal tax revenue of SRF-funded projects in four example states. The analysis was conducted at the request of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for an April 7 hearing that examined the federal role in water/wastewater infrastructure funding. The preliminary findings were included in the organizations’ joint testimony and have since been verified and officially entered into the committee’s official record.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee included a Sense of the Senate provision in S. 2848, The Water Resources Development Act of 2016. The act cites findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis, and calls on Congress to provide robust funding for the SRF programs. The committee passed S. 2848 in a 19-1 vote on April 28, and at press time the bill was awaiting full Senate consideration.

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