Tracy Mehan Review of Bloomberg News Article on Innovative Green Stormwater Infrastructure Financing

arl0523-901-jpg_t670  Photo: Bioretention in Roadway Median, Arlington County, Virginia, 2016

Tracy Mehan, III is the former Assistant Administrator for Water, US EPA, and is the current Executive Director for Government Affairs with the American Water Works Association (AWWA).  As a thought leader in the sector, Mr. Mehan provides commentary on issues of the day.  Below is a review of a Bloomberg News Insights article titled, “Financing Integrated Green Stormwater Infrastructure for Community Health and Resiliency – Getting the Best Deal for the Money.”     

A combination of shrinking federal resources, urbanization and large precipitation events, increasing in number and intensity, have put two big issues on the national agenda: stormwater management and finding the necessary financing for it.  Dominique Lueckenhoff of EPA and Seth Brown, formerly of the Water Environment Federation and now a private consultant, have written an outstanding essay on these twin topics for Bloomberg BNA’s Water Law & Policy Monitor, “Financing Integrated Green Stormwater Infrastructure for Community Health and Resiliency – Getting the Best Deal for the Money” (October 13, 2016).  It is essential reading for local officials, water managers and financial advisors within and outside of government regardless of their chosen mix of gray and green approaches to the challenge.

Lueckenhoff and Brown do an excellent job of surveying the range of public funding options including but hardly limited to, the ever-growing movement toward the formation of stormwater utilities, a vehicle for garnering dedicated revenue, of which there are now 1,500 across the U.S.

But the really innovative and stimulating part of their essay outlines the great potential for private financing options, including bank loans, equity funds, Green Bonds, Social Impact Bonds and Community-Based Public-Private Partnership (CBP3) platforms.  In this latter approach, “The public entity remains the controller partner.”

Lueckenhoff and Brown address a fundamental problem for the coming century.  How do we finance the next generation of environmental progress while being mindful of the fiscal challenges facing the federal, state and local governmental sector.  If we will the ends (environmental progress), we have to not only will the means (funding of same) but think creatively on how to do that.  These experts have done just that.