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Water System Management & Finance

The water infrastructure challenges in New England are significant. The 2012 Clean Water Needs Survey identified more than $18 billion is needed in infrastructure investments. In the 2021 Report Card for America’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave EPA Region 1 states no better than a C- grade for the status of their infrastructure investments, noting the mounting costs of deferred maintenance. New England has dozens of impaired waterways that require billions of dollars of investments to improve nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen), bacteria, or sediment levels in our waterways.

Compounding these stressors will be the impacts of climate change on our region. Five of the six EPA Region 1 states are sea level-rise hot spots, and our only landlocked state, Vermont, experiences flooding from extreme storms and nutrient loading into their water bodies, including Lake Champlain, resulting in harmful algal blooms and drinking water impairments.

Nowhere are these challenges greater than in under-resourced communities that lack the capacity to access much-needed infrastructure funds.

Services

Projects

Translating Climate Uncertainty to Climate Risk in Support of Water Resource Infrastructure Adaptation Decisions

Water utilities with facilities in shore-adjacent locations are particularly vulnerable to disruptions due to flooding exacerbated by sea level rise. Damages to such facilities not only destroy property but risk causing severe disruptions to local economies. Decisions about how and when to take adaptation measures must be taken in an environment of profound uncertainty about the future extent and timing of climate change and sea level rise. The potentially high costs of adaptation make it essential that utilities have the means to choose the most economically suitable strategies despite the myriad uncertainties.

This project develops an economic evaluation of the options that Maine Water and the City of Saco, Maine, have for adapting to climate change, including changes in storms and precipitation and sea level rise. The evaluation uses an innovative model that combines the latest science on climate change and sea level rise, with an economic benefit-cost model that allows options to be assessed with respect to the probabilities of damage from climate change and the options for investing in different strategies to reduce possible damages. This project has a strong stakeholder engagement process built in.
 

This NOAA-sponsored project is led by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Center for the Blue Economy in collaboration with the New England EFC and will conclude in 2023; This project will conclude in 2023; An example of the project process and outcomes is Options for Sea Level Rise Adaptation on West Cliff Drive | Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) Trainings and Technical Assistance

The EFCN creates lasting change one community at a time–starting with clean, safe water and how to pay for it. Our cutting-edge resources, hands-on training, and free professional services support thriving communities and protect critical environmental resources. Our team of experts provides training across all 50 states and territories to help communities, water systems, and wastewater systems achieve their technical, managerial, and financial goals. We offer a wide range of in-person and virtual training opportunities on topics ranging from asset management to assessing climate and hazard vulnerability. Check out a training near you, or view one of our most popular pre-recorded webinars.

The Environmental Finance Center Network has been leading the way in finance solutions for environmental infrastructure and improvement since 1992

Smart Management for Small Water Systems

The New England Environmental Finance Center has been contributing to the EFCN Smart Management for Small Water Systems program since 2013. Our area of expertise includes training and technical assistance on Climate Resilience and adaptation training and technical assistance, including the use of EPA’s Climate Resilience and Evaluation Tool (CREAT) tool and webinars, workshops, and tools for protecting drinking water sources.

Resources

 

Climate Resilience and Evaluation Tool (CREAT) tool Methodology Guide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the Climate Resilience Evaluation and
Awareness Tool (CREAT) to assist drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utility owners and
operators in understanding potential climate change threats5 and assessing the related risks at
their individual utilities. CREAT was developed under EPA’s Creating Resilient Water Utilities
initiative.

Resiliency Means Business – Part 1: A Broad Approach to Safety and Robust Service Reliability

Resiliency is a popular term in the news today, from individual wellness to the fate of the planet. What does it mean for water utilities? This is a brief overview of the concept, practices, and regulations around resilience as it is relevant to water and wastewater utilities. Resilience and emergency planning are closely related. But most important is this message: resiliency is an ongoing process, not a crisis plan on a shelf. It can strengthen every aspect of your utility. Resiliency means business. This overview, written by Jack Kartez, Senior Advisor/Emeritus Director, New England Environmental Finance Center, starts you on the path to system resilience.

Find these and other resources on the Resource page.