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NACWA Testifies in House Hearing on Jobs, Benefits Created by Stimulus Funding

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Nov. 4, 2009

Contact:
Susie Bruninga, (202) 833-3280
NACWA Director of Public Affairs

 

NACWA Testifies in House Hearing on Jobs, Benefits Created by Stimulus Funding

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) testified today that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) benefitted many wastewater utilities and created jobs for local communities, but said some revisions were needed if Congress pursues a second stimulus bill.  Michael Gritzuk, director of the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department in Tucson, Ariz., testified on behalf of NACWA before the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee that ARRA funding helped his agency move forward with a critical wastewater project.

“This project will greatly increase operation flexibility and capacity management and is estimated to have significant impacts on the local economy while significantly improving Pima County’s wastewater infrastructure,” Gritzuk said.  “The combination of the $8 million in low interest loans and $2 million in principal forgiveness provided by the ARRA will result in savings of over $3.2 million in financing costs over the 15 year term of the loan and will supplement an additional $33.1 million in funding that is expected to create approximately 170-200 jobs over the life of the project.”

A NACWA survey of its member agencies, as the $787 billion stimulus package was being negotiated, showed $17 billion in projects were ready to go except for the funding needed to pay for them.  NACWA worked with Congress to secure $6 billion for the water sector — $4 billion for wastewater projects and $2 billion for drinking water projects.

Pima County and other NACWA member agencies had generally positive experiences in obtaining ARRA funding for their projects, but recommended several considerations Congress should take into account if it moves forward with another stimulus package.  For example, NACWA believes all communities should have access to ARRA funds, and the distribution of the money should be based significantly on job creation and shovel readiness, rather than on states’ pre-existing priority criteria or on single indicators such as affordability and median household income.  In some cases, states relied on affordability criteria, which resulted in communities with larger populations being left out.  Often, these communities tend to be the ones that have been most affected by the economic downturn and are capable of moving forward quickly with stimulus-funded projects.

While, there is little doubt that the clean water investments provided by the ARRA were a good first step in reversing the years of declining federal investment in our nation’s municipal clean water needs, NACWA continues to believe that a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism is needed to ensure clean water communities can continue to provide essential protections for public health and the environment while also promoting economic security.  A clean water trust fund, such the one advanced in the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 3202), would achieve this goal.

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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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