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Water: Sustainable Infrastructure

Initiate or Expand Collaboration

Local officials are in a unique position to ensure that all the right people are talking and working together toward long-term infrastructure sustainability. The right collaborations can produce both cost savings and better, multi-benefit solutions for your community. Below are examples of some of the realms where "collaboration gaps" can occur. Consider where greater collaboration might benefit your community and initiate or expand a dialogue with key stakeholders.

Collaboration between Drinking Water, Wastewater & Stormwater

All three of these utilities or departments have issues that overlap as they address water issues in your community. Drinking water is used and becomes wastewater. Wastewater effluent and stormwater enter our streams and/or aquifers, which are used as drinking water sources. And all three need a plan for their infrastructure renewal. Coordinated renewal and an integrated plan for all aspects of water in your community achieve efficiencies and help ensure long-term supply. While many communities have all three areas working closely together, others have drinking water, wastewater and stormwater issues addressed by distinct departments—and could benefit from increased coordination.

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Water Collaboration across the Watershed

Reach outside of your community to partner with others who affect your drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Upstream wastewater discharges and stormwater management affect downstream drinking water supplies. Higher capability utilities can share experiences and strategies with lower capability ones. Collaborating to buy chemicals in bulk, share resources and expenses, or even consolidate some functions with other utilities in your watershed can achieve economies of scale—and make your dollars go further.

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Collaboration between Water Sector, City Planning & Other Infrastructure Sectors

City planning can have significant impacts on the cost of providing water, wastewater, and stormwater services. Through smart growth that builds livable communities, and infill rather than sprawl, a community can significantly reduce the amount of infrastructure it needs to maintain over the long term. Growth into "green fields" can mean building additional infrastructure that will require ongoing support.

In some communities on the cutting edge, development plans can not proceed until the water sector utilities examine the plan and determine the long-term cost to the community of the development.

EPA is partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation to build more livable, sustainable communities by integrating investments in housing, transportation, and water. This sort of multi-sector collaboration helps to carefully plan development so that communities can reap multiple benefits, such as creating housing close to where people work, linking communities to public transit, and making smarter investments in water related infrastructure. For more information about the partnership, visit the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities website.

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