Sustainable Water Systems: Step One-Redefining the Nation's Infrastructure Challenge

This study examines the challenges that the drinking water and wastewater systems of the U.S. face in maintaining and replacing their pipes, treatment plants, and other critical infrastructure. The report offers policy recommendations, key principles of sustainable water infrastructure, and guiding elements of water management in light of climate change. This resource is applicable to water management at all levels.

The report details a ‘Sustainable Path’ for the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure. It focuses on large urban settings, but also gives attention to small communities and systems. The Sustainable Path includes guidance on funding, common goals, and creative policies. Climate change mitigation and adaptation are one of the major elements of the Sustainable Path, which encourages water utilities and agencies to consider adapting their infrastructure, water resource management, source water protection, and stormwater management.

The report concludes with recommendations for policies at the local, state, and federal levels. Two of these recommendations include climate adaptation; one mentions the need for water utilities to adapt to climate change, and another recommends that federal funding should target investments in climate change adaptation. 

An appendix includes a matrix of potential challenges to implementing the Sustainable Path principles and potential solutions to these obstacles. 

 

 

 

 

Publication Date: 2009

Related Organizations:

  • The Aspen Institute

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Resource Types:

  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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