White House puts $674.7bn price tag on improving US water infrastructure

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Centre to enable communities and businesses across the country to finance the $674.7bn of improvements needed to improve water infrastructure.

The White House says the infrastructure developments are needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change such as storms, drought and flooding, and to replace aging and inadequate infrastructure which currently prevents the provision of clean drinking water, wastewater management and reductions in flooding.

It estimates that $376.5bn will be needed over the next 20 years to maintain and improve drinking water infrastructure; while $298.1bn will be required to develop the nation’s clean water infrastructure.

“By modernising 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 EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

In a state-by-state breakdown of the water infrastructure needs, California – which is facing one of the most severe global droughts on record – will require the most investment, with an estimated $74.8bn needed over the next 20 years; ahead of New York ($51.9bn) and Texas ($45.3).

Build America

The new Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Centre is part of the White House Build America Investment Initiative – a government-wide effort to increase infrastructure investment.

The Centre will collaborate with the US Department of Agriculture to explore ways to increase financing of climate-resilient water infrastructure projects that integrate water efficiency, energy efficiency, water reuse and green infrastructure in every US state. This includes the pipes, drains, and concrete that carry drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater, as well as wastewater treatment plants.

It will also co-ordinate with the EPA-supported Environmental Finance Centers to further develop the specific financial tools, public-private partnerships, and non-traditional finance concepts that will better leverage federal funding programmes.

“This Centre is really important, not just to communities, but to EPA in terms of providing some core public health protections especially those in a changing climate,” added McCarthy. “In short, it’s a way to make federal money extend further so that we can take care of some of the infrastructure challenges – in this case, most notably our water and wastewater infrastructure.”

Lucinda Dann

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