Sharlene Leurig

Document Type

Symposia Article


Unlike most of the developed world, where investor-owned water systems serve the majority of the population, the United States relies mostly on water provided by public systems. To a great extent, these systems were financed through the taxation authority of the federal government—the iconic Hoover Dam only one of the many hundreds of pipelines and reservoirs built by agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers for the benefit of local economic development. Similarly, many of the drinking and waste- water treatment facilities in operation today were built to help com- munities comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act and financed in large part by federal dollars distributed through the Environmental Protection Agency, sometimes leveraged by state revolving loan funds. What of our public water systems has not been paid for by federal or state tax dollars has been debt-fi- nanced through the tax-exempt municipal bond market. Of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market,1 roughly 10% is debt issued by water and wastewater systems to build, repair and expand water infrastructure.

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