Ground Water and Drinking Water

Drinking Water Action Plan: Priority Area 1

Promote Equity and Build Capacity for Drinking Water Infrastructure Financing and Management in Disadvantaged, Small, and Environmental Justice Communities


Support and strengthen infrastructure investment and management capacity at drinking water utilities, particularly in disadvantaged communities, to advance equity in drinking water protection, including through promotion of regional water system partnerships, sharing and replicating best practices, and building community capacity.


  • Economically stressed and disadvantaged communities, and small drinking water systems, are facing disproportionate risks as a result of underinvestment in drinking water infrastructure and limited technical, financial, and/or managerial capacity.
  • Small systems, which constitute 97 percent of the nation’s public water systems, can be particularly difficult to operate and sustain due to their limited economies of scale.
  • “Shrinking cities” that are larger but have experienced significant decreases in population, also face a host of technical, managerial and financial challenges exacerbated by aging and now oversized infrastructure; for example, many ‘rust belt’ cities have lost a large percentage of their population since the 1960’s.Many rural communities face similar challenges.
  • EPA’s most recent safe drinking water needs survey estimates an overall need for drinking water infrastructure in the next 20 years of $384 billion, in addition to the $271 billion needed for the nation’s clean water infrastructure over the same period of time.

Proposed Actions

  • Develop a national initiative to promote regional partnerships that support equity and capacity building.
  • Update the Operator Certification guidelines to help modernize requirements and encourage states to take advantage of the flexibility to set aside DWSRF funds for implementation.
  • Identify and promote best practices for successful funding and capacity-building for disadvantaged communities and work with key partners to ensure robust communication and education opportunities.
  • Establish new State Revolving Fund (SRF) metrics that will allow the tracking of assistance agreements and additional subsidization based on the income status of the communities served by these programs.
  • Establish a “one-stop” on-line water infrastructure funding portal to assist communities with identifying funding sources, financing approaches, and case studies for funding water infrastructure capital projects and predevelopment or other planning requirements.
  • Promote best practices in SRF management for disadvantaged communities, including leveraging of SRF funding, promotion of asset management, creating investment opportunities for green infrastructure, and expanding the use of available SRF flexibilities to support small and disadvantaged communities.

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