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EPA Sponsors Its First National Conference on Water Infrastructure -- National Experts Weigh in on Critical Issues

Release Date: 01/31/2003
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CONTACT: John Millett 202-564-7842 /

(01/31/03) Calling national attention to future investment gaps facing the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today hosted its first ever conference on “Closing the Gap: Innovative Solutions for America’s Water Infrastructure.” To promote continued public health and water quality protection and progress in communities across the country, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman convened the conference to provide a national stage for business, government and other experts to exchange information and views on meeting future challenges in water infrastructure management and investment.

“A safe, affordable, and abundant supply of drinking water is something we take for granted in America,” said Whitman. “We turn on the tap, and we are confident that it is healthy for us and our families. There’s no doubt, however, that in the years ahead America’s water infrastructure faces some critical needs.”

Assuming no growth in revenues, the total need for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure – in both capital and operations and maintenance – exceeds $540 billion over 20 years. The size of the gap can be reduced substantially if a real growth in revenues is projected over the same period. Assuming a three percent annual real growth in revenues, for example, the gap shrinks by nearly 85 percent.

The one-day forum focused on the growing needs for infrastructure replacement, improvement and expansion. Innovative methods to ensure maximum efficiency in water resources and water infrastructure management and investment were also examined.

EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, G. Tracy Mehan III, offered a multifaceted approach to solving the problem including better management, smart water use, the watershed approach and better utilization of price mechanisms. “We are working to ensure clean and safe water for the 21st Century,” said Mehan. “This is a concerted effort to close the gap in America’s investment in our water infrastructure.”

The forum’s panel discussions featured the following national experts:
Andrew Chapman, Elizabethtown Water Company
Chuck Clarke, Seattle Public Utilities
Harry Ott, The Coca Cola Company
Paul Pinault, Narragansett Bay Commission
Richard Pinkham, Rocky Mountain Institute
Michael Rouse, International Water Association
Janice Beecher, Michigan State University Institute of Public Utilities
John Betkoski, Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control
Michael Chesser, United Water
Paul Halberstadt, ConAgra Foods
Eric Olson, Natural Resources Defense Council
Billy Turner, Columbus Water Works
Kevin Ward, Texas Water Development Board

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