For Immediate Release: Jan. 22, 2009
Contact: Susan Bruninga, (202) 833-3280
NACWA Director of Public Affairs
NACWA Testifies Before House Panel on Need for Wastewater Funding in Stimulus
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) testified today on how investments in wastewater infrastructure can help stimulate the overall U.S. economy by providing jobs with good wages that also benefit the environment and public health. NACWA President Marian A. Orfeo, director of planning and coordination for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), told the committee that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, unveiled last week is a good first step toward addressing the nation’s clean water needs. The package contains $11.8 billion for water and wastewater projects, including $6 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF).
“While the package’s $6 billion targeted to wastewater projects within the Clean Water SRF is significant, NACWA members have identified over $17 billion worth of wastewater projects ready to go that can have shovels in the ground within 120 days of receiving the go ahead from their State agencies,” Orfeo testified. “In Massachusetts alone, NACWA members have nearly $365 million worth of shovel ready projects, with greater Boston having $205 million.”
NACWA and other water sector associations sent a letter Jan. 9 to President Obama and congressional leaders urging them to include a minimum of $20 billion and as much as $40 billion in the economic recovery package for drinking water and wastewater projects.
“We continue to believe that this level of investment is both necessary and will have the greatest and swiftest impact on job creation,” Orfeo said. NACWA and others in the clean water community said the best way to put Americans back to work is through grants that can be used to pay for water and wastewater infrastructure projects that are ready to go.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) estimate a $300-$500 billion funding gap over 20 years between what is needed to upgrade and repair the nation’s wastewater infrastructure and how much is being spent. Population increases, aging pipes and equipment, new water quality challenges including climate change, nutrient controls, and other requirements are placing more demands on publicly owned wastewater treatment agencies. Communities currently bear 95 percent of the cost of clean water, even as these demands increase. The federal share has dropped from 78 percent in the 1970s to less than 5 percent today. To help fill the gap, ratepayers, already constrained by the sagging economy, are facing higher water and sewer bills.
NACWA looks forward to working with members of the House and Senate on this important legislation. However, public agency members recognize that the job is far from over. A long-term, sustainable source of funding in the form of a trust fund, similar to those that exist for highways and airports, will be needed to ensure clean water agencies can continue to make critical environmental and public health progress.
NACWA represents the interests of more than 300 public agencies and organizations that have made the pursuit of scientifically based, technically sound and cost effective laws and regulations their objective. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim more than 18 billion gallons of wastewater daily.
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