It’s been 200 days since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it has allocated 92 percent of the $7.22 billion Recovery Act dollars it is charge of allocating. And much of that money will be used for projects to improve water quality, wastewater infrastructure and drinking water infrastructure.
Specifically, $4 billion is going for assistance to help communities with water quality and wastewater infrastructure needs and $2 billion for drinking water infrastructure needs. A portion of the funding will be targeted toward green infrastructure, water and energy efficiency, and environmentally innovative projects.
On Thursday, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson ticked off a short lift of water-related projects that promise to create jobs, including a harbor cleanup in New Bedford, Mass. (270 jobs) and a Superfund cleanup project (more than 200 jobs) in at the Iron Mountain Mine in Redding, Calif., which used to discharge one ton of toxic materials into the Sacramento River every day. Once completed, the local hydroelectric power plant will use the restored waters to produce energy.
President Obama is requesting $475 million in next year’s budget for cleaning up the Great Lakes—and this would be just a small part of the funding if he makes good on his campaign promise of devoting $5 billion for Great Lakes restoration.
So while green jobs are most often associated with installing solar panels and wind turbines, there is also growing demand for people who can set up water reclamation systems for buildings or develop water conservation systems, for example.
Careers related to water quality, conservation and pollution mitigation also tend to require highly specialized training and schooling. Projects such as installing solar panels might require more hands on deck, with spikes of high demand for labor help, than longer-range projects aimed at water infrastructure improvements, but it would still be nice to see water-related green jobs training programs being offered. Perhaps they’re out there, but just not well publicized?
If you know of any green jobs training and educational programs that are focused on water science and conservation, let us know. Where are they? Who is receiving the training? And when do they start work?