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WHERE'S THE MONEY? ALTERNATIVES FOR FUNDING WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES

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Abstract:

Many cities and municipalities are facing a number of challenges including growing populations, aging infrastructure for wastewater and stormwater, pollution of beaches and waterways, shortages of parks and open spaces, and limited available funding. These challenges require bold solutions for the wastewater, stormwater, and public works programs. And bold solutions require significant investments, with leads to the ultimate question, “how are we going to pay?” Using the City of Los Angeles as a case study, this paper presents an overview of traditional and creative funding solutions investigated for the City's wastewater and stormwater programs.

Traditional funding mechanisms include, but are not limited to, sewer rates, bonds, grants and/or loans. For this case study, the analysis focused on the City of Los Angeles' recent voter-approved “Clean Water, Ocean, River, Beach, Bay Storm Water Clean up Measure” general obligation bond, which will provide approximately 500 million in general obligation bonds to fund water quality improvement projects. Non-traditional funding mechanisms include tax check-offs, special license plates, hotel and rental car taxes, fast food tax, plastic bag levy, and public private partnerships. Within each of these categories several case studies were analyzed to determine legislative feasibility, degree of success, challenges involved in execution, and applicability to TMDLs.

Implementation of successful funding mechanisms requires public education, political and legislative support, and a clear understanding of how the funds will be used during implementation. But, without this understanding prior to implementation of a funding program, the success of that program will be diminished and could ultimately fail, burdening the success of future programs in the area. Most of the non-traditional programs implemented were in themselves demonstrative of a progressive ideology, and therefore a success in this deeper aspect even if they ultimately failed. Even with the existing hurdles, non-traditional water-related funding mechanisms will continue to be pursued and implemented as TMDLs become a forefront goal in achieving water quality goals.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864705783866135

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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