Earlier today, we joined the Chicago Federation of Labor to appear before the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to release a new report titled “A Flowing Economy: How Clean Water Infrastructure Investments Support Good Jobs in Chicago and in Illinois.” The report reveals some of the major benefits that investments in clean water generate for the economy and the environment, both locally and statewide, and highlights the need for additional clean water projects.
During the Board Meeting, the Commissioners passed a resolution recognizing the report and Commissioners Debra Shore and Barbara McGowan gave positive remarks. Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer for the Chicago Federation of Labor, addressed the Board on the need to focus on upgrading and repairing the state’s clean water infrastructure to protect our water resources and expand the economic and environmental benefits they generate.
Frank Manzo, Policy Director at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and co-author of the report, helped to highlight its key findings, including:
- For every $1 billion invested in clean water infrastructure, approximately 11,200 jobs are created throughout the economy and there is an 8% one-year GDP Return on Investment.
- In the Chicago area, clean water investments boost the regional economy by nearly $2 billion and lower the unemployment rate by 0.7 percentage points.
- Employment in the water infrastructure sector increases an Illinois worker’s hourly earnings by 10.1 percent on average, providing a personal benefit that roughly equates to an additional year of schooling.
Our own Clean Water Program Director, Cindy Skrukrud, and Director Jack Darin spoke to the Board and the audience at the meeting about the need to address threats to our waters such as combined sewer overflows, aquatic invasive species and nutrient pollution. The report offers a snapshot of these challenges facing the Chicago Waterway System and waterways throughout Illinois and the opportunities to address them through future investments. Local, state and federal agencies have an opportunity to boost the economy and create good jobs for hardworking men and women while solving problems that threaten the health of our water resources.
One such problem is the threat of Asian Carp and other invasive species moving through the Chicago Area Waterways into Lake Michigan, and invasives moving from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River Basin. While there is broad agreement among stakeholders in both regions that a solution is urgently needed, there is additional information necessary to move decision makers to implement the best approach. We hope that local, state and federal agencies will work together to expediently fund and complete the necessary studies to move forward. We know that control measures must be constructed in the waterway system to prevent invasives from moving between the basins, and investing in this solution will bring benefits to the region’s economy and workforce while protecting some of our most valued bodies of water.
We’re excited to be a part of this initiative and stand ready with our partners to advocate for prioritized investments to achieve clean water and a thriving economy. We hope you’ll join us in being voices for the protection of our waterways and the future of our working class.
Read the press release:
Read the full report:
Watch a video of the January 7th presentation: