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Media Discourse on Aging Water Infrastructure

38 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2014  

Sridhar Vedachalam

Johns Hopkins Water Institute; Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute

Bruce V Lewenstein

Cornell University - Department of Communication

Kelly A DeStefano

Cornell University

Shira D Polan

Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute

Susan J. Riha

Cornell University

Date Written: March 13, 2014

Abstract

Water infrastructure in the United States is aging. Budgetary constraints of federal, state and local governments have resulted in the delay or deferral of critically needed investments. Infrastructure failures such as water main breaks are a daily occurrence in many cities across the U.S. Recent observations at the state and national level indicate that public opinion is asserting itself on public investment decision-making by elected leaders. We conducted a content analysis of print media articles during the period 1999-2012 on water main breaks (WMB), and water and sewer rate increases (WSR). Approximately 500 articles on each topic drawn from the LexisNexis news database were randomly selected for the analysis. Our analysis found that media coverage of water infrastructure is an episodic affair with little attention to ongoing issues. WSR articles contained more details and a focus on governance, while WMB articles addressed business concerns and were concentrated in older cities.

Keywords: water infrastructure, water main breaks, rate increase, content analysis, aging infrastructure

JEL Classification: L82, L95, R11

Suggested Citation

Vedachalam, Sridhar and Lewenstein, Bruce V and DeStefano, Kelly A and Polan, Shira D and Riha, Susan J., Media Discourse on Aging Water Infrastructure (March 13, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2408546 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2408546

Sridhar Vedachalam (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins Water Institute ( email )

615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

HOME PAGE: http://water.jhu.edu/

Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute ( email )

New York State Water Resources Institute
1123 Bradfield Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Bruce V Lewenstein

Cornell University - Department of Communication ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Kelly A DeStefano

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Shira D Polan

Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute ( email )

1023 Bradfield Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-1901
United States

Susan J. Riha

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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