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Jacksonville Business Journal
New Water Supply Coalition
2:02 PM EST Thursday, February 15, 2007
by Ace Stryker
Fourteen public water agencies and water industry companies from across the country, including JEA and the St. Johns River Water Management District, have formed the New Water Supply Coalition in an effort to garner more federal support for water supply infrastructure.
The coalition aims to win congressional support for a number of new water supply projects nationwide, including recycling, desalination and reclamation programs. The group is drafting legislation that would allow public supply agencies to issue tax credit bonds to help finance new water supply infrastructure construction.
"We're in the process of finalizing the bill and seeking sponsors in the House and the Senate," said Michael Slayton, deputy executive director of Palatka-based SJRWMD and chairman of the new coalition.
The coalition grew out of the U.S. Desalination Commission, formed in 2002 to seek funding specifically for desalination projects. Slayton said in addition to the new coalition's broader spectrum of interests, it will differ from its counterpart by focusing on mobilizing both private capital and federal funding for construction loans.
"Our coalition is committed to educate every member of Congress about the impending future crisis this nation will face if we do not make significant investments in new water supply projects," Slayton said. "From Florida to California, climate change and water source pollution are combining to make the need for new water supplies a critical priority in the years ahead."
The majority of the coalition's member organizations come from Florida and California, although Texas and Hawaii are also represented. Slayton said he anticipates the coalition will attract more potential member organizations as it becomes established, including groups in Arizona, New Mexico and Massachusetts that have already expressed interest.