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Highlights

Communities will need hundreds of billions of dollars in coming years to construct and upgrade wastewater infrastructure. Policymakers have proposed a variety of approaches to finance this infrastructure, including the creation of a national infrastructure bank (NIB) and the increased use of privately financed public-private partnerships (PPP). In this context, GAO was asked to identify (1) stakeholder views on issues to be considered in the design of an NIB and (2) the extent to which private financing has been used in wastewater PPPs and its reported advantages and challenges. In conducting this work, GAO developed a questionnaire based on existing NIB proposals and administered it to 37 stakeholders with expertise in wastewater utilities, infrastructure needs, and financing; GAO received 29 responses from stakeholders with a variety of perspectives about an NIB. To determine the extent to which wastewater PPPs have been privately financed and their advantages and disadvantages, GAO identified and interviewed municipalities involved in privately financed PPPs and wastewater services companies, conducted case studies in states with privately financed PPPs, and conducted a literature review. GAO is not making any recommendations. While this report discusses a number of funding approaches, GAO is not endorsing any option and does not have a position on whether an NIB should be established.

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