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WIN News Release

For Immediate Release:
February 26, 2002
April Boyd, Rep. Tauscher
(202) 225-1880
Rob Ostrander, Rep. Kelly
(202) 225-5441

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Members Introduce Bill to Improve Quality, Security at Water Treatment Plants

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members Congresswomen Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.), introduced a bill in the House today that would dramatically increase funding to improve local water treatment facilities.

The bill, The Clean Water Infrastructure and Security Improvement Act of 2002, would authorize $25 billion over the next five years to help cities and counties across the country meet their clean water needs.

"Wastewater treatment facilities in cities and towns across the country are in jeopardy because of the federal government's failure to its part and dedicate all the resources necessary," said Rep. Tauscher. "Congress has to be certain cities get the funding they need to keep these essential services up and running, protect our environment, and even protect the facilities in the post-September 11 world."

A similar bill has been introduced by Reps. Tauscher and Kelly before, but the new bill reflects the changes since September 11 by increasing security around water treatment centers.

"This program is an excellent example of how all levels of government can work together to protect the environment and help safeguard our nation's water supply against terrorism," said Rep. Sue Kelly. "These documented needs exist in rural and urban areas in every state. The expense to our environment and taxpayers will only increase the longer we procrastinate in addressing these needs."

The Clean Water Infrastructure and Security Improvement Act would help bridge the multi-billion dollar gap between current federal funding and local communities' needs. EPA's own estimates show that local communities are facing a $330 billion gap in water infrastructure investments over the next twenty years.

This problem is exacerbated by the expiration of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, an important financing tool that helps communities and counties meet their growing needs for clean water by providing them funding to build and maintain a wastewater infrastructure. Though the program has continued to receive an annual appropriation from Congress since it expired in 1994, a staggering disparity remains between the federal investment in wastewater infrastructure and communities' and counties' actual needs.

The legislation also establishes a grant program to help financially distressed communities adequately treat their wastewater and meet federal clean water standards.

The bill has broad bipartisan support in Congress and is supported by labor and industry groups, including the AFL-CIO's International Union of Operating Engineers, the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA).

Executive Director of the Association for Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, Ken Kirk, said, "The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) wholeheartedly lends its full support to the water infrastructure funding bill introduced by Representatives Sue Kelly and Ellen Tauscher. The bill's significant increases in federal funding for core wastewater infrastructure repair and rehabilitation projects and its strong grant component show that the federal government is set to join municipalities as full partners to ensure our nation's water quality. I fully expect this bill to garner the broad bipartisan support it deserves and move quickly through the House."

David R. Williams, of East Bay Municipal Utilities District and Chair of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies' (CASA) Federal Legislative and Liaison Committee said, "This bill, when enacted, will provide the necessary assurances that the federal government remains a full partner in the nation's fight to reverse water quality impairments and restore water quality infrastructure in California and around the country." He added, "I applaud the tremendous leadership by Representatives Tauscher and Kelly on this issue."

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