The Johnson Foundation Testifies Before Congress About Freshwater Systems
Source: 
Outreach Strategies

Requests financing for sustainable water infrastructure

The Johnson Foundation’s Lynn Broaddus testified before a panel of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on innovative and sustainable solutions to handle increasing pressure on the country’s aging freshwater systems.

Broaddus, director, Environment Program at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, focused her testimony on Charting New Waters’ recent “Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure” report. The report is the product of a meeting convened by the Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with American Rivers and Ceres, which brought together a group of experts to discuss ways to drive funding toward the infrastructure needed for the 21st century.

“The deteriorating state of our nation’s water infrastructure needs urgent attention and I commend Chairman Gibbs and Ranking Member Bishop for bringing Congressional oversight to these issues,” said Broaddus. “I believe the “Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure” report can be a vital resource as Congress considers how innovative financing systems can support new, sustainable water infrastructure that meets the needs of future generations.”

In her testimony before the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, Broaddus highlighted the report’s findings that the water utility business model is undergoing a transformation largely due to technology but that these changes also provide opportunities for new sources of innovative financing and effective water management. Broaddus also noted that the nation needs financial systems that recognize the changing nature of our water and energy resources.

Broaddus emphasized the following key points in her testimony:

  • - The water utility business model is changing. Historically, water and wastewater utilities have functioned as monopolies without competition. Now technological advances are allowing more options for water efficiency, water re-use, and water harvest. 
  • - We are likely to see more consolidation of systems and a move toward “one water” management, where wastewater, water supply, stormwater and floodwaters are managed as one system rather than siloed into disciplines working at cross-purposes
  • - Expanding the pool of water service funding, accounting and paying for ecosystem services and implementing distributed water services will all be key to creating an infrastructure system that best meets our needs for the future.

The “Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure” report details how innovative financing and pricing flexibility are key to preparing the nation’s aging freshwater systems to handle growing demand and environmental challenges.

It concludes that our nation’s water systems have delivered remarkable benefits that have allowed for economic growth and well-being.  However, those systems are aging and require new thinking about how we finance and develop them to meet a set of changing future demands. New financing models and pricing flexibility provide enormous opportunity for positive transformation necessary to keep pace with the rapid changes being experienced by counties, municipalities and investor-owned utilities.

To view Broaddus’ written testimony click here.

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