According to the American Water Works Association, the cost of updating America's aging water and sewer infrastructure could top $2 trillion over the next 25 years. And that's just the tip of the melting iceberg. Stemming the tide of climate change will require trillions of dollars of investment in the global energy sector over the coming years - by some counts more than $1.5 trillion per year within the next 15 years.
Regardless of whether improvements are needed to fix a crumbling infrastructure or to address global warming, questions about where the money will come from to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements loom large.
This month's issue of Water Efficiency magazine takes a close look at the funding options available for green infrastructure projects.
Federal tax incentives, green bonds, US government backed securities and municipal bonds are all helping fund green infrastructure projects. Brian DePonte, senior vice president of innovation markets at Key Equipment Finance, suggests a strategy that includes multiple tactics, including raising rates on utilities, finding new streams of revenue, and cutting energy consumption.
"If you haven't raised rates in years, you're losing revenue due to inflation," he said. "Enhance your current revenue in an incremental way with minimal impact on the customer. Don't be insensitive, but don't ignore it."
He also points out that in many cases, upgrading equipment can more than pay for itself in cost savings. Many water utilities, for example, are losing money because of leaks or meter inaccuracies.
"Test your meters. It's time to replace the cash register," he said. "Use AMR to go after non-revenue water. That's low-hanging fruit that can provide a big jump in revenue, which can be used to fund other improvements or create a payment program."
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