Future Infrastructure Needs
In the early 1850s, cities increasingly realized that clean water and the treatment of waste water were public health issues best overseen by government. By ensuring clean water, many health issues were addressed that made society work more efficiently, and many deaths were prevented. Government policy interventions continue today as our drinking water and waste water removal have been considered public utilities. These changes are generally unquestioned and taken for granted.
Today we continue addressing our water issues mainly through the State Revolving Funds (SRF). The SRF is a large partnership between states and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with federal grants awarded to states each year to address water issues. States provide a 20% match and choose which communities receive the grants. Aging water systems and increased demand have strained many communities, with nationwide estimates for needed repairs around $30 billion over the next few years.
As with any funded program, SRFs are subject to fraud by the many contractors charged to complete these water projects. As the National Grants Desk Officer for the EPA Office of Inspector General, my duties included understanding the SRF and providing written guidance to our Special Agents nationwide who received SRF fraud complaints. I have toured many water treatment plants and dams and appreciate the role our government plays in providing this vital utility. I was reminded of those duties when I recently toured the Cheatham County Dam on the Cumberland River that provides electricity to Dickson County.
District 78’s future infrastructure needs will expand as the population increases in the Middle Tennessee region. Among the challenges will be addressing our transportation and high speed broadband internet needs, as well as providing clean drinking water and managing sewage for more people. My experience in responding to communities’ needs for these services will be useful if I have the opportunity to serve all in our District as your State Representative.