U.S. EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board focuses on small water systems

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board met August 22-23 in Kansas City, Kansas, for a meeting focusing on the financial capacity for small water systems.

Key points raised included:

  • Many small communities are not able to provide safe water and are losing ratepayer base.
  • States need priority processes for small communities to address first and should consider grants.
  • Governments must “think big,” include private sector and nonprofits in financing approaches, and recognize asset management as essential — replace on time, not on failure — and therefore need financing capacity.
  • To address small system infrastructure needs, governments and stakeholders must focus on workforce development, leveraging technology for small systems, developing sustainable revenue models, encouraging large utilities to help small utilities, utilizing efficient markets to finance small system needs, and recognizing the value of water is connected to affordability.

Board studies on financing options for lead service line replacement and septic systems will be completed in 2017.

The EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Resiliency Center also announced its Water Finance Clearinghouse is online with 600 collaborators providing case studies and funding sources.

As financing capacity grows for small water and septic systems, opportunities should increase for NGWA members to assist these communities in providing safe groundwater supplies.

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