Change the criteria for water and wastewater infrastructure


Where and how drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is designed, approved, and built largely governs where and how growth occurs. So states should mandate that water and wastewater infrastructure project approvals be prioritized to place smart growth development in line ahead of more conventional development.Some states inadvertently penalize more desirable projects by limiting public funding for sewer expansions that are needed to support infill development.


State agencies can give preference to water and wastewater projects that will serve higher-density developmentlocated in or near existing developed areas, near public transportation and separated from critical environmental resources.

Approval also can be contingent on strict ecological analysis of a site's carrying capacity; rigorous review for impacts on water quality, water quantity and wildlife habitat; and consistency with regional and local land use plans. The cumulative impacts from multiple applications also should be considered during the approval process rather than reviewing individual projects in isolation.

Once a statewide regulatory approach is established, decisions on infrastructure projects for designated growth areas can be expedited. Decisions for infrastructure outside of areas designated for public service can be subject to strict — and slower — review. To reduce water quality impairments associated with the new development, designated growth areas selected for improved or extended infrastructure should receive priority for stormwater funding.


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