new environmental protection agency action may lead to more water infrastructure construction in low income communities
For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to update the way it assesses required water and wastewater infrastructure projects in communities across the country.
More specifically, the agency’s just-announced Financial Capability Assessment will give water utility companies serving lower income communities an opportunity to include such economic factors in their infrastructure building and updating plans.
Such projects are required under the landmark Clean Water Act of 1972.
A press release issued by the EPA notes that an updated Financial Capability Assessment will incorporate “additional metrics for evaluating financial capability that reflect the disproportionate impacts on low-income communities.”
The EPA announcement, which brings with it a required 30-day comment period, has won the praise of water utility and infrastructure groups, saying that it will ultimately provide a more comprehensive picture of the affordability issues confronting any given community.
In a statement, David LaFrance, chief executive officer of the American Water Works Association, noted that “drinking water and wastewater services are essential to protecting public health in our communities, especially during a pandemic.”
LaFrance then lauded the EPA for “pursuing a more holistic approach to assessing water affordability in our communities.”
In a press release issued by the EPA it was noted that ultimately the revised and updated Financial Capability Assessment will “support negotiations for implementing Clean Water Act requirements for municipalities and local authorities.”
The need for new and updated water and waste water systems remains pressing, according to a report issued last month by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which noted that many of the systems are aging.
The ASCE report recommended a federal government investment of around $109 billion to update those systems.
By Garry Boulard
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