Small and Disadvantaged Community Water Funding Roadmap
March 30, 2023
Communities cannot exist without a reliable supply of drinking water. In the U.S., the 20th century saw these basic elements of public health and civic life become widely available across the country. As government funding allowed communities to put new technologies to work, Americans grew to expect that every community deserves quality drinking water and wastewater treatment—improving public health, allowing business to thrive, spurring economic growth, and creating better futures for everyone.
Today, America’s water and wastewater systems are showing their age. Treatment plants built for an earlier time are reaching the end of their useful lives, no longer able to function efficiently or manage new environmental challenges. Governments face higher costs to keep these systems running, much less to treat emerging contaminants, reduce their environmental impacts, and prepare for the challenges of a changing climate. Customers are facing higher bills for less reliable service, but the cost of decaying infrastructure is not measured just in money: It can result in less reliable water that fails to meet modern standards, hurting a community’s economic prospects as well as its public health.
Unfortunately, all these trends impact small and disadvantaged communities much more acutely. Time and again, the communities least able to pay for necessary infrastructure upgrades have become the most at risk when that infrastructure fails. Fortunately, there is growing awareness in Washington that ensuring equitable access to water and wastewater services is a national priority— and there is new funding and technical assistance (TA) to make it happen.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Veolia and the Water Center at the University of Pennsylvania have prepared a new report that lays out solutions to help communities and companies get started on water innovation, share best practices for small and disadvantaged communities to access new federal funding sources and outline a policy agenda to fill needed gaps in water infrastructure funding, policies and technical assistance.
Click here to read the full report.