Go Back to the Well: States and the Federal Government Are Neglecting a Key Funding Source for Water Infrastructure

Issue Paper
May 15, 2018
The Fenton Water Treatment Plant was knocked off line due to historic flooding in Fenton, Missouri on December 31, 2015.

Bill Greenblatt/UPI/Newscom

The funding gap for U.S. water infrastructure could exceed $1 trillion. Many decades-old drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems do not meet existing environmental and public health standards. Even more systems will need to be modernized to continue to meet these standards. Furthermore, our water infrastructure was never designed for the impacts of climate change, including the increasing frequency of droughts and sea level rise, so many existing systems will need to be redesigned or relocated.

This report describes actions that federal and state governments should take to generate more funding for water infrastructure through State Revolving Funds (SRFs). Increased funding is needed to

  • build climate resilient water infrastructure
  • support green infrastructure
  • invest in water efficiency
  • expand source water protection efforts
  • replace lead service lines
  • provide much-needed assistance to low-income communities

These recommendations could help shrink the nation’s water infrastructure funding gap in a way that’s sustainable and equitable. It would also provide assistance for communities most in need, and help build the 21st century water infrastructure systems the entire nation needs.