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Water: Sustainable Infrastructure

Sustainable Communities


Cross-sector Infrastructure Planning

pyramid_1Investments in water infrastructure and water sector systems can have a profound impact on the overall character and sustainability of our communities. When making those investments, multiple, long-term benefits can be realized when the decisions are aligned with a plan for how and where a community wants to grow—or in areas where population is declining, where decisions are aligned with strategies for sustainably serving fewer customers. To pursue this goal, EPA is
promoting the coordinated targeting of investments from various infrastructure sectors, such as housing, transportation and water, to locations within a community that support its goals for livability and sustainable growth.

To foster community livability, EPA has entered into a Partnership for Sustainable Communities with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation.


As communities work to address the challenge of aging water infrastructure, many are adopting strategies that prioritize investments in existing infrastructure over new infrastructure that would grow their service footprint. This sort of "fix-it-first" approach promotes infill development and helps revitalize existing communities. Promoting infill development also makes the water infrastructure, the utility and the community more sustainable. It maximizes the number of people served by that infrastructure and minimizes the amount of infrastructure that the ratepayers must support for the long-term.

The National Governors Association provides a good description and examples of fix-it-first approaches in their Issue Brief titled: Fixing It First: Targeting Infrastructure Investments to Improve State Economies and Invigorate Existing CommunitiesExit EPA Disclaimer.

State Revolving Loan Programs & Community Sustainability

To further community sustainability in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program, EPA is working with the states of New York, Maryland and California to identify ways in which these programs can be modified to provide incentives for projects that promote smart growth and other sustainable practices.

Additional Sustainable Communities links:
  • Smart Growth—Smart growth is development that changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth/no growth question to one of how and where new development should be accommodated.
  • Action Planning and the Sustainable CommunityThe sustainable community should establish goals and a vision by developing more efficient and effective ways in which to live and grow. It also will involve the participation of the entire community in creating a vision of the community's future that balances economic, environmental and social needs.
 Sustainable Communities Quick Links
  Smart Growth

Action Planning


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