The way in which water and wastewater services are funded in the United States changed dramatically from the 1970s to the 2000s. The country moved from a sizable federal grant program that accompanied the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act to a more complex system in which a smaller amount of funding is delivered through grants and loans administered by a wide variety of federal and state agencies. Around 2000, several national studies concluded that the level of spending on water and wastewater services in this new, more complex system is inadequate to meet the nation’s needs.
In light of these conclusions, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), one of the remaining important sources of federal grants for water and wastewater infrastructure in Appalachia, contracted with the University of North Carolina Environmental Finance Center (UNCEFC) to assess the needs and the gaps in funding for water and wastewater infrastructure in Appalachia. The overall goal of the study was to help ARC, as well as other policy makers at local, state, and federal levels who are concerned about the adequacy of water and wastewater services in Appalachia, understand how these services now are provided and funded and what might be done to meet the needs of the region more effectively.