Two construction workers build out a Washington, D.C., water infrastructure project. Source: U.S. EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center Jan. 16, with a goal 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 EPA announced.
The center was announced as Vice President Joe Biden and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy toured the construction site for a tunnel that aims 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 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,” said McCarthy.
According to the EPA, more than $600 billion is needed over the next 20 years to maintain and improve the nation’s water infrastructure. This includes the pipes, drains, and concrete that carry drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. It includes industrial wastewater pretreatment facilities; wastewater treatment plants; municipal separate storm sewer systems; decentralized, onsite and septic systems; public drinking water systems; and private wells. It also includes green infrastructure, which uses natural land cover to capture rain where it falls, allowing it to filter through the ground.
The EPA says the new center will serve as a resource for communities, municipal utilities, and private entities as they seek to address water infrastructure needs with limited budgets. See below for more details about what the new center sets out to do.
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 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.