Assessing Government Infrastructure Programs

Maintaining and upgrading aging water infrastructure throughout NY State requires sizeable public and private investments. Various programs at different levels of governance are focused on particular aspects of infrastructure, ranging from financing of capital projects to management of municipal infrastructure systems. WRI is investigating the effectiveness of government infrastructure programs to determine whether intended benefits are being realized and to generate insight with respect to strategic management of public funds. The objectives of this program are to:

  1. Identify government programs central to the maintenance and improvement of NY State water resource infrastructure.
  2. Assess infrastructure programs for their effectiveness in delivering stated goals.
  3. Communicate results to municipalities, resource managers, and government agencies in order to inform program development.

Research Goals

  • Does state revolving fund (SRF) financing lead to capital improvement projects with a demonstrable, positive impact on water quality?
  • How effective is asset management at helping municipalities operate their infrastructure systems, and is the pilot Municipal Sewage System Asset Management program structured in a way that is beneficial to NY’s various communities?
  • What are the available options for managing onsite wastewater treatment at the community level in NY? How can we best match governance models to community characteristics for maximum effectiveness?

Outreach Goals

  • Develop peer-reviewed publications that may serve as discussion starters with other academics and think tanks
  • Generate short research summaries intended for municipal decision-makers, and staff in state and federal agencies tasked with managing government infrastructure programs
  • Develop a strategy for initiating substantive dialogue with government program managers

Diversity Equity Inclusion/ Environmental Justice

  • Determine whether government infrastructure programs address DEI/EJ and assess adequacy of responsiveness
  • Make recommendations on how to better incorporate DEI/EJ considerations into policies and programs

Select Projects & Publications

Update on the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) (February 2020)

JUL 17, 2020

Alyssa Marcy, Cornell University Institute for Public Affairs Graduate Student. The memo explores what's new with WIFIA and highlights changes of interest to stakeholders in New York State. Additionally, see here for a case study regarding how the Indiana Finance Authority used WIFIA to enhance CWSRF capacity.

Developing a Municipal Downspout Disconnect and Green Infrastructure Program

MAY 4, 2020

One solution municipalities can use to address increasing runoff is to implement residential downspout disconnect and green infrastructure programs. The result is cost savings for wastewater utilities and decreased combined sewer overflow and stormwater runoff in neighborhoods and local waterways. This guidance lays out a step by step guide to disconnect program implementation.

Is bigger better? Driving factors of POTW performance in New York

MAY 15, 2018

Rahm, B.G.; Morse, N.; Bowen, M.; Choi, J.; Mehta, D.; Vedachalam, S.  Water Research. 2018, 135, 134-143

The Light at the End of the Culvert

MAY 1, 2018

M. Lung, A. Meyer, R. Marjerison & B.G. Rahm (2017) Talk of the Towns, Association of Towns of the State of New York. Vol. 31, May/June.

Nitrate Dynamics in Two Streams Impacted by Wastewater Treatment Plant Discharge: Point Sources or Sinks?

JUN 1, 2016

Brian G. Rahm, Nicole B. Hill, Stephen B. Shaw & Susan J. Riha, Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Volume 52,  Issue 3, pages 592–604, June 2016