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NACWA Urges Support for Representative Norton’s Bill Requiring Federal Payment of Stormwater Fees

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For Immediate Release:
Friday, July 13, 2010

Contact: Pat Sinicropi, (202) 833-2672
Director, Legislative Affairs

NACWA Urges Support for Representative Norton’s Bill Requiring Federal Payment of Stormwater Fees

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) strongly urges support for and enactment of legislation, introduced by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), to clarify the federal government’s responsibility to pay reasonable fees for stormwater management services provided by local utilities.  The legislation introduced today is a companion bill for S. 3481 introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in June.  Both bills seek to clarify that fees charged for the control and abatement of water pollution, including stormwater management fees, shall not be considered a tax and therefore are required to be paid by federal agencies pursuant to their obligations under Section 313 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The issue gained attention in April when the General Services Administration (GSA) delivered a preliminary announcement that federal facilities located in Washington, D.C. are not required to pay impervious area charges levied by the local municipal sewer authority.  GSA claimed that the fee amounted to a tax on the federal government and therefore is unconstitutional.  NACWA opposed this decision and applauds Rep. Norton for her leadership in working to see it overturned.  “We agree with Representative Norton that it is unfair for the federal government to require the City to undertake these investments and then exempt themselves from payment, especially given the federal government’s extensive presence in the District.  Moreover, we believe this ill-advised decision is legally unjustified and significantly undercuts the Administration’s commitment to improve water quality throughout the nation,” said NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk. “We applaud Rep. Norton for her leadership and look forward to working with her in advancing this important legislative effort.”

NACWA has long-advocated that federal facilities are obligated to pay local stormwater fees.   NACWA data indicates that while a majority of federal facilities currently pay for local clean water services, a growing number are contesting these charges as unconstitutional.   Stormwater and wastewater utilities work hard to advance environmental stewardship goals in the face of significant financial challenges due to increased regulatory responsibilities and declining rate bases attributable to the ongoing economic downturn. On top of these challenges, clean water needs continue to grow as the recently released Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (CWNS) indicates:  a total of $298.1 billion in unmet clean water needs exists over the next twenty years, representing a 17% increase over the 2004 needs survey data.  Faced with these costs, the federal government must be an active partner with communities in meeting clean water challenges - not seeking ways to avoid its responsibilities.

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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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