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Water: Sustainable Infrastructure

Ask About Alternative Solutions

Leading water sector utilities are finding new, innovative ways to meet the challenges of their aging infrastructure. Each community's drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater needs and challenges are unique. As stewards of the community, local officials can facilitate the exploration of viable alternative solutions that:

  • Have lower long-term costs than traditional approaches, and
  • Provide the best overall benefits to the community.

Technology is constantly evolving, and successful strategies are being employed across the country every day. Ask for an analysis of the alternative solutions available in order to spark new ideas for meeting your own community's needs.

  • Green Infrastructure can be both a cost-effective and an environmentally preferable approach to reduce stormwater and other excess flows entering combined or separate sewer systems. Runoff reducing approaches include: green roofs, trees and tree boxes, rain gardens, and porous pavements.
  • Smart Growth is development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment. It changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth/no growth question to "how and where should new development be accommodated." It also affects your long-term water infrastructure needs. Sprawl and poorly planned growth has, in many cases, left us with more extensive infrastructure to support and maintain—and by growing "smartly," you can put your community's future infrastructure on a more sustainable footing.
  • Use the best technology. Innovative, cost-effective technologies can make a real difference in a wide variety of your infrastructure investments. Some examples include:
    • Lining existing pipes instead of replacing them.
    • Using pipe inspection technologies to target the portions of pipes that most require attention.
    • Using nutrient removal technologies.
    • Using automated systems.
    • Using biosolids that are by-products of wastewater treatment.
  • Source Water Protection can be successful in providing public health protection and reducing the treatment needs for public water suppliers. Source water quality can be threatened by many everyday activities and land uses, ranging from industrial wastes to the chemicals applied to suburban lawns.

  • Water Quality Trading is an innovative approach to achieve water quality goals more efficiently. Trading is based on the fact that sources in a watershed can face very different costs to control the same pollutant. Trading programs allow facilities facing higher pollution control costs to meet their regulatory obligations by purchasing environmentally equivalent (or superior) pollution reductions from another source at lower cost, thus achieving the same water quality improvement at a lower overall cost.

  • On-site/Decentralized Wastewater Management can be a viable and cost-effective alternative to centralized wastewater collection and treatment. Septic system regulation is usually a state, tribal, and local responsibility. EPA provides information to homeowners and assistance to state and local governments to improve the management of septic systems to prevent failures that could harm human health and water quality.

   
   

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