The Water Infrastructure Network has identified the need for $4 billion for infrastructure statewide

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Say hello to the Water Infrastructure Network website. The group hosted a conference Tuesday for around 150 providers in Denver to highlight funding needs and possible solutions. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The WIN Colorado website gives detailed information on the funding needs for water delivery, sanitary sewer and storm sewer needs throughout the state. It is funded by numerous public and industry groups, including the Special Districts Association, Colorado Municipal League, American Water Works Association, Associated General Contractors of Colorado and Colorado Contractors Association.

State funds for water grants and loans also have been reduced as dedicated sources, such as the mineral severance tax, have been redirected to help balance the state budget. “The ability of the state to loan money for water infrastructure is pretty thin,” said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress.

Three-fourths of the state’s $7.1 billion budget is spent on K-12 education, public safety or health and human services, and those costs aren’t dropping, he explained…

Water loan funds from mineral severance taxes administered through the Colorado Water Conservation Board have been cut by more than $266 million since 2008, and lawmakers gave no indication that the situation will change anytime soon…

One panel dealt with public-private partnerships, but couldn’t reach consensus on how they should be structured. They agreed that regionalizing water districts would provide a better basis for funding because of economy of scale, but said it might not be possible in every case. They also emphasized the need for private involvement and discounted the public mistrust of the profit motive

Brian Burnett, Peter Binney and Lowell Clary, all consulting engineers, offered examples of how private companies were able to reduce costs to water providers through operational efficiencies. Binney, former director of Aurora Water, cited the specific example of the need to quickly boost the city’s treatment capacity after the 2002 Hayman Fire degraded its water supply in the South Platte River basin. A private contractor was hired to resolve the issues and performed the task on time and under budget.

More infrastructure coverage here.

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