Through its recently launched Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center, EPA aims to help communities across the country improve their wastewater treatment, drinking water supply and stormwater conveyance systems.
The Center will a) explore innovative financial tools, public-private partnerships, and non-traditional finance concepts to better leverage federal funding programs; b) build on the successful State Revolving Fund and other programs of EPA and its federal partners; and, c) target ways to increase financing of climate-resilient water infrastructure projects that integrate water efficiency, energy efficiency, water reuse and green infrastructure.
It was announced as Vice President Joe Biden and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy toured the Washington, D.C., construction site of a tunnel reducing sewer overflows into the Anacostia River 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 Administrator 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 Center will serve as a resource for communities, municipal utilities, and private entities as they seek to address water infrastructure needs with limited budgets. The agency will help explore public-private partnerships and innovative financing solutions. Aging and inadequate water infrastructure, EPA contends, 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.
The agency undertaking was made against the backdrop of major clean water and drinking water infrastructure needs. More than $600 billion is needed over the next 20 years to maintain and improve the nation’s water infrastructure, as detailed in an EPA report available here.