The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center today to help communities across the country improve their wastewater, drinking water and stormwater systems, particularly through innovative financing and by building resilience to climate change.
The center was announced as Vice President Biden and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy toured the construction site for a tunnel to reduce sewer overflows into the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. by 98 percent.
The center is part of the White House Build America Investment Initiative – a government-wide effort to increase infrastructure investment and promote economic growth by creating opportunities for state and local governments and the private sector to collaborate, expand public-private partnerships, and increase the use of federal credit programs.
“Infrastructure is central to the President’s plan to build on the progress the U.S. economy is making by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all Americans,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
“By modernizing the nation’s infrastructure we can protect our drinking water sources and enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change by avoiding financial and water supply losses from leaking pipes and reducing pollution from sewer overflows and wastewater discharges.” – The National Law Review reports.
- EPA’s center will serve as a resource for communities, municipal utilities, and private entities as they seek to address water infrastructure needs with limited budgets.
- EPA will help explore public-private partnerships and innovative financing solutions.
- Aging and inadequate water infrastructure hinders the ability of communities to provide clean drinking water, manage wastewater, reduce flooding, and provide recreational waters that are safe to swim and fish in.
- Impacts of climate change — including intense and frequent storms, drought, floods, sea-level rise and water quality changes — create challenges for communities as they prepare water infrastructure that can withstand these impacts.
More than $600 billion is needed over the next 20 years to maintain and improve the nation’s water infrastructure.
The Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center will:
- Explore innovative financial tools, public-private partnerships, and non-traditional finance concepts to better leverage federal funding programs. The Center will build on the highly successful State Revolving Fund and other programs of EPA and its federal partners.
- Explore ways to increase financing of climate-resilient water infrastructure projects that integrate water efficiency, energy efficiency, water reuse and green infrastructure.
- Support communities to develop sustainable sources of funding, particularly for stormwater activities.
- Build upon existing work to support small community water systems to build technical, managerial and financial capacities through collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Closely coordinate with the EPA-supported Environmental Finance Centers and consult with the Agency’s Environmental Finance Advisory Board.
Further to our previous post on this subject, Inframanage.com observes that this is all very good news for long term Infrastructure Management in the USA water sector, even though it may take some time before public opinion moves to see it in a positive light.
PHOTO CREDIT: Orem Utah Water Works by Marc Palumbo via Flickr Creative Commons License