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ACEC News / Infrastructure

October 1, 2020

ACEC Research Institute Hosts Online Panel on Innovation in Climate and Water Infrastructure

The ACEC Research Institute, in partnership with Accelerator for America and the New Partnership on Infrastructure, hosted an online panel on Wednesday looking at recommendations to empower localities to innovate in climate and water infrastructure.

The panelists were Radika Fox, CEO, U.S. Water Alliance; Chuck Chaitovitz, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Edwin Crooks, senior vice president, HNTB.

Mayor Deborah Kling of Nampa, Idaho delivered a keynote address calling for greater collaboration among local, state and federal governments to build more resilient infrastructure. She also singled out the role of engineering firms, saying “partnerships with engineering firms, because of their national knowledge and experience, are very beneficial to local communities.

In the panel discussion, the panelists discussed three of the 26 recommendations for improving infrastructure delivery in Community Serving Infrastructure: A Playbook for a New Infrastructure Partnership, which was recently published by the New Partnership for Infrastructure, the ACEC Research Institute, and several other organizations, including WSP USA and HNTB.

Fox highlighted Recommendation 11: Outcome-Based Permitting for Water Management She said EPA permits often constrain local agencies because they too focused on the process rather than the results. Instead, she recommended, “Set the goal that you want that local water agency to achieve, and then get of the way so they can innovate and really be creative around how to achieve that outcome.

Chaitovitz focused on Recommendation 10: Federal Funds for Betterments. Betterments are “repairs to improve infrastructure resilience,” and Chaitovitz said that communities need to address their many infrastructure challenges “in a resilient way and we need as many tools in the toolbox for communities to do so.

Crook addressed Recommendation 24: Increasing WIFIA’s Capacity. WIFIA is a federal loan and guarantee program that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans. Because of the huge need for water projects in many local communities and the substantial return on funds invested into infrastructure, Crooks said, “There is certainly capacity to do more.

Click here to listen to the hour-long panel discussion.

This session was the third of four panel discussions hosted by the ACEC Research Institute.

Click here to access the first panel discussion, which focused on Funding and Financing Infrastructure.

Click here to access the second panel discussion, which highlighted recommendations to accelerate infrastructure project delivery.

The fourth panel will be on October 7: Holistic Infrastructure Planning and Design.


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