Earlier this month, the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn. (WWEMA) held its 42nd Washington Forum in our nation’s capital, with the theme, “Where’s the Funding? Making the Most of New Opportunities.”
Speaker after speaker addressed the many sources of potential funding for water and wastewater projects, including state revolving funds (SRFs) and other government loan programs, public-private partnerships, private activity bonds, and even water purchase agreements. Indirect “funding” options also were explored, such as incubator programs and R&D facilities that can make it less expensive to test new technologies and bring them to market.
Throughout the meeting, speakers and WWEMA members made the point over and over: The quest for funding today is not “one size fits all.” Municipalities and industry must be creative in finding ways to pay for new as well as long-overdue capital projects.
Many of you are used to turning to equipment manufacturers and their rep companies for technology solutions; you may be less accustomed to thinking of them as a resource for finding funding. I can assure you that our members are as concerned about this topic as you are. WWEMA Chairman Frank Rebori, president of Smith & Loveless, has named funding the top priority for WWEMA in 2015.
Do we have all the answers? No. But we as technology providers do want to work with you to help make your projects a reality. Whether it’s direct assistance in locating funding sources, finding ways to help you save (or potentially even make money through nutrient recovery processes) or sharing our experiences in how to “sell” to your community using life-cycle valuations, we are here to help.
Too often our industry becomes focused on one source of funding. Our discussions become “all SRFs, all the time.” But traditional government loan programs are only one option in a diverse menu of funding possibilities. I encourage you to lean on your manufacturing partners for guidance in exploring the many options available to you.
Vanessa M. Leiby is executive director of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Assn., a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization that has represented the interests of manufacturers serving the water supply and wastewater treatment industry since 1908. Leiby can be reached at [email protected].