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Partnerships Eyed for Massive Water Infrastructure Improvements

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US EPA
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Water industry and government leaders will be in Chicago this week to discuss innovative ways to upgrade the nation's waterworks.

Three years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency called for a twenty-year, more than 330-billion dollar capital improvement initiative to improve the nation's drinking water utilities.  But the problem of crumbling infrastructure has just gotten worse.

Starting today, utility leaders and other water delivery experts will be in the midwest to take up the daunting topic.  The "American Water Summit" runs through Thursday in Chicago.

Organizers hope the gathering will cultivate creative ways to finance the very expensive proposition. And that’s where Kathy Shandling comes in.

She's executive director of the International Private Water Association, which promotes public-private partnerships to finance water and wastewater projects.  WUWM environmental reporter Susan Bence reached Shandling by phone before she left her New York City base.

Shandling cites Santa Paula California's water recycling facility as an example of successful public-private funding model.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.