Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Ten Ways OK Can Finance Clean, Reliable Water Supplies

Oklahoma needs about $38 billion to meet the drinking water infrastructure needs for the next 50 years.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s estimate — which uses 2007 dollars and is adjusted for projected inflation — was released last week in a draft of the department’s comprehensive water plan.

Oklahoma Water Resources Board

The OWRB found that the state’s current financing programs aren’t enough to meet the projected costs of drinking or wastewater infrastructure projects. Wastewater infrastructure improvements are expected to costs $43 billion (in 2010 dollars) over the next half-century.

The OWRB broke down the funding needs by time periods:

Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs (in 2007 dollars)

Year range Present to 2020 2021-2040 2041-2060
Cost $9,682,000,000 $10,688,000,000 $17,531,000,000
Total: $37,901,000,000

Wastewater Infrastructure Needs (in 2010 dollars)

Year range Present to 2020 2021-2040 2041-2060
Cost $12,380,000,000 $22,420,000,000 $8,130,000,000
Total: $42,930,000,000

In its draft plan, the OWRB made 10 recommendations to ensure that publicly owned water and wastewater systems “the financing opportunities necessary” to secure clean, reliable water supplies:

  1. Additional state investments.
  2. Creation of a state-backed credit reserve enhancement program.
  3. Creation of new or restructured FAP (financial assistance) Loan Program.
  4. Creation of a small issuer loan initiative.
  5. Maintain gross production tax revenue for water and wastewater infrastructure.
  6. Encourage maintaining or increasing Federal SRF (the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund) funding.
  7. Consider necessity of subsidy reduction.
  8. Working with members of the team of infrastructure financing professionals and the Funding Agency Coordinating Team, develop new methods to encourage regionalization of water and wastewater supply systems.
  9. Working with the team of infrastructure financing professionals, identify other state funding sources.
  10. Working with the team of infrastructure financing professionals, explore new alternative funding sources.

The OWRB is expected to vote on a final version of the plan on Oct. 17 after taking comments from the public. This is the third update of the state’s water plan, which was created in 1980 and updated in 1995.

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