The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy with the goal of increasing the sustainability of water and wastewater infrastructure in the United States. Communities across the country are facing challenges in making costly upgrades and repairs to their aging water infrastructure, which include sewer systems and treatment facilities. Making this infrastructure last longer while increasing its cost-effectiveness is essential to protecting human health and the environment, and maintaining safe drinking water and clean water bodies.

The new policy is part of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s priority to protect America’s waters. “Through cost-effective, resource-efficient techniques – like green water infrastructure alternatives – this policy aims to make our communities more environmentally and economically sustainable,” says EPA deputy administrator Bob Perciasepe. “These smart investments in our water infrastructure, along with increased awareness of the importance of these investments, can keep our water cleaner and save Americans money.”

The policy emphasizes the need to build on existing efforts to promote sustainable water infrastructure. The policy also focuses on working with states and water systems to employ comprehensive planning processes that result in projects that are cost-effective over their life cycle, resource efficient, and consistent with community sustainability goals. The policy encourages effective utility-management practices to build and maintain the level of technical, financial and managerial capacity necessary to ensure long-term sustainability. The policy represents a collaborative effort between EPA and its federal, state and local partners. Working with these partners, EPA will develop guidance, provide technical assistance, and target federal, state and other relevant federal financial assistance in support of increasing the sustainability of America’s water infrastructure.