CHRISTOPHER S. BOND Testimony
SENATOR CHRISTOPHER S. BOND - OPENING STATEMENT
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE FINANCING HEARING
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2001, 9:30 am - SD 406
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing on improving the
utilization of available water and wastewater infrastructure funding.
The cost of providing clean and safe waters for our families is
overwhelming local communities large and small. Therefore, we must
explore all creative and flexible financing options to fund drinkable
and fishable waters.
Yesterday, I introduced a Concurrent Resolution with Sherry Boehlert in
the House to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act on
October 18, 2002. I believe it would be a wonderful goal for us to set
to pass a new water funding bill by that 30th anniversary next October.
We certainly have the need for an increased authorization for water
spending. Recent surveys from EPA and outside groups say we need to
spend at least $300 billion over 20 years to maintain our water systems.
To traditional infrastructure maintenance and improvement we can now add
infrastructure protection. Assessing the vulnerability of our drinking
water system's and providing protection from terrorists will not be
cheap, but it must be done.
These numbers are only for water infrastructure. There are a host of
additional regulatory requirements coming down the pipe as well. We also
have bills for expensive Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations, Total
Maximum Daily Load, and Sanitary Sewer Overflow proposals. We are
currently debating placing new burdens on localities for additional
Arsenic controls. All of these proposals are well intentioned, but they
also have very high real costs.
Let me put a Missouri face on the challenges communities face. You all
have communities like these in your states, but it's good to remind
ourselves of our local problems as we debate these arcane financial
The town of Pickering is in Nodaway County in northwest Missouri.
According to the 2000 census, they lost 15 people and are now down to
156 residents. If you drive up Highway 148 out of Maryville, you will
see Pickering on the left side of the road.
Pickering is an old railroad town, but the train doesn't stop there
anymore. It couldn't anyway, because they pulled up the rails and ties
There are two churches and one elementary school in town. Pickering
residents are hard workers, but most make barely over minimum wage.
Pickering has exactly one business - a junkyard. Thus, almost all city
tax revenues are from property taxes. The total city budget is . $25,000
per year. There is no police department, no fire department, no library.
There are no paid city workers.
The reason I bring this up is because Pickering has no sewer system.
Houses have septic systems. Gray water from tubs and sinks goes into the
ditch at the road. But many septic tanks don't have proper drainage, and
their waste leaches into the ditch. Storm water becomes dirty storm
As the financial experts can imagine, a town with 150 residents and an
annual budget of $25,000 can't afford $1 million for a sewer system. A
town with no city employees is hard pressed to fill out reams of
paperwork for loan programs. A town that size can't afford matching
requirements. Tripling water rates still won't be enough to pay for the
water system they need.
Pickering wants to do the right thing. Pickering wants to meet Clean
Water Act standards. Pickering wants to meet EPA regulations. I'm sure
no one in Pickering wants to drink Arsenic in their water.
Pickering wants to provide clean and safe water for its residents.
Pickering is willing to pay more for clean water, but sometimes good
intentions and desire just aren't enough.
We have to keep Pickering in mind when we talk about how to finance
water improvements. We also have to remember mid-sized communities such
as the 10,000 residents of Lebanon in southwest Missouri. They face
millions of dollars in sanitary sewer overflow costs. We also can't
forget the aging system that more than a million residents in St. Louis
depend upon for every drink of water they take.
All of these Missouri families and all the families in your states
deserve clean and safe water, but they need our help. These people are
depending upon us for a new water spending authorization to meet their
I urge my colleagues to come together to help meet these water needs.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for hosting this hearing and I look forward to
further Committee action on paying for clean and safe water.