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Water Infrastructure Financing and the Role of Public-Private Partnerships

Authors: Robert Greer*, Texas A&M University/ Bush School of Government and Public Service, Kyungsun Lee, Texas A&M University
Topics: Economic Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology, United States
Keywords: public finance, infrastructure, water, management
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the United States, the delivery of clean drinking water and treatment of wastewater are critical public services provided by a complex system of federal, state, and local governments. The process of water treatment and delivery requires significant investment in infrastructure both in initial capital requirements as well as the on-going maintenance and operating costs. The quality of drinking water in the U.S. is, on average, relatively high but according to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years. The water infrastructure needs in the U.S. require both immediate attention and long-term solutions, and the dollar cost is climbing rapidly. The management of financial resources for long-term sustainability becomes even more difficult as state and local governments turn to increasingly large scale infrastructure solutions such as the construction of desalination facilities. It remains unclear, however, where these funds will come from and how they will be allocated. The goal of this paper is to review the portfolio of financing options that exist for public entities responsible for the construction and maintenance of water infrastructure in the U.S. with a focus on public-private partnerships and more recent innovative financing strategies. The growth of partnerships in water infrastructure will be explored through the lens of large-scale desalination facilities.

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