Follow the Money: An Agenda for Smarter Infrastructure Funding in the Great Lakes

Executive Summary

Our national priorities drive our public investments. The reverse is also true: Where and how we spend public water infrastructure dollars drives future investment priorities. These decisions also have a material impact on the water quality of our communities and the Great Lakes as a whole.

Each year the federal government, states, municipalities and wastewater utilities make significant investments in water infrastructure, such as sewers and wastewater treatment plants. Unlike roads, streetlights and schools, water infrastructure is often hidden underground or in out-of-way places that we rarely see. Many systems rely entirely on end-of-pipe treatment, rather than use other methods to control stormwater runoff at its source and minimize flows into sewers and treatment plants. There is a growing movement to change this situation, to shift water infrastructure investments to take better advantage of “green infrastructure” and alternative technologies that are cheaper, more effective, and provide a broader array of environmental benefits.

This report is intended to serve as an initial action plan for activists, citizens, and elected officials who want to ensure we are making the most cost-effective and environmentally beneficial water infrastructure investments possible.

Read the full report (PDF)