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New WERF and WRF Research Reveals Substantial Economic Impact of Water Utility Sector

30 Water Utilities Support $524 Billion in Economic Activity; Provide 289,000 Jobs

Alexandria, VA and Denver, CO – WEBWIRE

The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and the Water Research Foundation (WRF) today released the executive report to a new study exploring the significant impact the water utility sector has on the U.S. economy. Based on the planned operating and capital investments of 30 public water utilities, the National Economic and Labor Impacts of the Water Utility Sector (WRF research project #4566) determined that these water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities will contribute approximately $524 billion to the U.S. economy over the next decade and will support roughly 289,000 permanent jobs. 

Study results show that investments by utilities generate similar job impacts as compared to investments in clean energy, transportation, and healthcare. In addition, these investments generate more jobs per $1 million than investments in military spending or personal income tax. The total annual employment impact of the water utility sector exceeds the total workforce of many major cities, including New Orleans, Miami, and Pittsburgh and the combined economic contribution by utilities exceeds the gross regional product of metropolitan areas Chattanooga and Santa Barbara.

“Our utility subscribers play a significant role in their respective local communities’ economies and the national economy as a whole,” said Rob Renner, WRF Executive Director. “This study underscores the valuable economic and labor benefits of investments in water infrastructure.”

Throughout the coming decade, the 30 participating utilities will undertake projects to replace aging infrastructure, improve local water quality, expand services to accommodate increased demand, and respond to a number of additional needs. These projects will sustain more than 131,000 jobs over the next 10 years. 

In addition to the significant number of jobs sustained by the water utility sector, utilities in the study anticipate major workforce replacement hiring needs, with nearly one-third of their existing workforce currently eligible for retirement. The current workforce replacement needs of the water industry sector exceed the nationwide average.

“Investments made by our utility partners generate valuable, stable careers in communities across the nation,” said Larry Jaworski, WERF Interim Executive Director. “Over the next decade, our sector will 
continue to make significant contributions to local economies and the nation’s economy as a whole.”

The final report can be found on the WRF Website

About the Water Environment Research Foundation 
The Water Environment Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed in 1989, is America’s leading independent scientific research organization dedicated to wastewater and stormwater issues. For more information, go to

About the Water Research Foundation 
The Water Research Foundation is an internationally recognized leader in sponsoring research that supports the water community in holistically and cooperatively managing water from all sources to meet social, environmental, and economic needs. WRF’s research provides reliable and relevant solutions to the most critical challenges facing the water community today and into the future. Founded in 1966, WRF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to


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