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Clean Water Trust Fund Gains Traction at House Hearing
On June 8, the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing on the need for a clean water trust fund to address water infrastructure needs throughout the country.
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National Survey Shows Public Support for Clean Water Trust Fund
The Luntz Research Companies and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Inc. released a national survey (PDF) on the public's support for clean and safe water in early March. The results of the survey show overwhelming support for long-term federal funding of the nation's clean water infrastructure. The survey, which encompasses seven states across the country, found that 86% of the public support legislation by the U.S. Congress that would create a long-term, sustainable and reliable trust fund for clean and safe water infrastructure. A memo describing the survey's findings has been forwarded to all members of Congress. In the survey press memo, Luntz stated that this issue is "very personal to voters because of the importance of clean and safe water to their daily lives. This is not a local issue because Americans understand that water has no local boundaries. This is one of those areas where Americans demand that Washington take responsibility." Click here for the national and state specific press memos and survey results.

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Full Funding for Clean Water
The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development (VA-HUD) and Independent Agencies’ appropriations package (S.2825) on September 21, 2004. The fiscal year 2005 bill holds level at $1.35 billion the funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which is considerably higher than the $850 million approved by the House Appropriations Committee in the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2005 (H.R.5041). A broad coalition, which included several members of the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), in addition to organizations representing state and local governments, construction, environmental and public health and labor groups helped spur the Senate Committee’s action through meetings with key congressional staff and letter writing campaigns. The coalition also released a report, All Dried Up: How Clean Water Is Threatened by Budget Cuts to targeted Members of Congress highlighting the importance of fully funding the CWSRF. The bills must be voted on in the Senate and the House before going to conference where final funding levels will be determined.

House Appropriations Committee Cuts Clean Water Funding
The House Appropriations Committee recently passed its EPA budget bill (H.R. 2861). The approved legislation would cut the clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF) significantly by $500 million, from its current $1.35 billion level to $850 million. Challenges to reduce the nation's existing clean water funding gap continue to arise, as evident by the House Appropriations Committee's reluctance to fully fund the CWSRF. The Congressional Budget Office, Government Accounting Office, Environmental Protection Agency and Water Infrastructure Network have all estimated a funding gap in the hundreds of billions of dollars and the House's refusal to fund the CWSRF demonstrates its belief that the federal government need not be a full partner in the solution to the funding crisis. However, the Senate has vocally supported, and is expected to demand, full funding for the SRF in the final budget package. The continuous debate over the funding authorization indicates the need to look seriously at a national dedicated trust fund for clean water.

Senate EPW Committee Successfully Marks Up Water Infrastructure Bill
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee met on Wednesday, June 23, to markup the Water Infrastructure Financing Act (S. 2550), which was passed by a vote of 18-1. The legislation would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) at $20 billion and the Drinking Water SRF at $15 billion over 5 years.
The Committee also approved Senator George Voinovich’s (R-OH) amendment to reauthorize the sewer overflow control grant program through fiscal year 2009 at $250 million per year. Several drinking water amendments were also adopted, including $5 billion in funding to, among other things, help utilities assess and comply with lead and arsenic standards in drinking water. The bill also provides for a revised SRF formula that reportedly favors small states and keeps funding flat for large states. No timetable has been set to take this legislation to the Senate floor.

On Earth Day, April 22, several members of the House of Representatives read into the Congressional Record statements addressing the critical importance of pursuing infrastructure funding and a recommitment to clean water. The Water Infrastructure Network was cited in several statements noting the $500 billion gap expected for water infrastructure over the next 20 years and the need for dedicated funding to address the problem. The Representatives who read statements into the Congressional record include Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Jerry Costello (D-IL), John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), Sue Kelly (R-NY), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA).

Ranking Member of EPW Touts Luntz Report, Supports Funding for Water Infrastructure
In a prepared statement read before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Ranking Member, James Jeffords (I-VT), was critical of the Bush Administration’s proposal to cut funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) from $1.35 billion to $850 million. In his statement, Senator Jeffords expressed the importance of clean water infrastructure funding and cited the Luntz report (PDF) saying “91% of Americans are concerned that our waterways will not be clean for our children and grandchildren.” The EPA budget proposed by the Senate is receiving broad bipartisan support demonstrating an increased awareness by Congress of the need for water infrastructure funding. WIN will work with EPW to secure the $1.35 billion for the SRF, a short-term goal, along with establishing long-term, dedicated funding for clean water.

Ranking Member of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Calls for Vote on Funding, Applauds WIN Effort
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies (VA-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee voiced her strong support for increased water infrastructure funding, calling for a vote on behalf of her amendment to increase the drinking water and clean water state revolving funds by $3 billion. Although a waiver, which would have allowed the amendment’s consideration, was voted down by a close 49-44 vote, Senator Mikulski spoke strongly about the important work of the Water Infrastructure Network and its member organizations and vowed to continue to work on behalf of the funding issue, demonstrating that water infrastructure funding has key champions in Congress. WIN will continue to work with Senator Mikulski and other key congressional allies on behalf of long-term infrastructure funding.

Presidential Candidate Touts WIN in Effort to Create Jobs
The Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) was recently quoted in the Wilmington Journal on the need for federal funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. WIN’s message came through loud and clear when Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), presidential hopeful, voiced his concern over the lack of job opportunities in the country and the potential to create employment by rebuilding the nation’s aging water and wastewater infrastructure. Kucinich was quoted as saying, “In a study completed by the Water Infrastructure Network, it would take $1.3 trillion over 20 years to build, operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater facilities. What America needs is a way to put unemployed Americans to work rebuilding America’s neglected infrastructure.” This marks another important step in WIN’s effort to convey the major problem facing the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure and the economic and environmental benefits that would accrue from federal investment to narrow the massive clean and safe water funding shortfall. The article can be found on WIN’s website here.

WIN Members Continue Advocacy in Press for Infrastructure Funding
The Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) and its members the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), as well as key Congressional members, all support the idea of long-term funding for clean and safe water infrastructure. AMSA and ASCE officials have recently been quoted in over a dozen newspapers across the country expressing the need for water and wastewater infrastructure funding and responding to the Bush Administration’s controversial request for additional funding to replace and upgrade Iraqi infrastructure when more needs to be done on the domestic front. The article also sites a May survey performed by Frank Luntz for AMSA that shows that 84% of Americans believe their members of Congress should support long-term water infrastructure legislation. For a complete transcript of the article please visit the San Luis Obispo web site . For a copy of the Luntz Survey memo, visit this AMSA web site (pdf).
Additionally, an article was published by WIN member, the Associated General Contractors of America, on the pressing need for water infrastructure funding. The article can be found here.

WIN Member Releases Report Citing Faltering Conditions of Water Infrastructure
The Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) believes that the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2003 Progress Report for America’s Infrastructure demonstrates the growing need for a long-term, sustainable clean and safe water infrastructure funding solution. In its September 4 Report, ASCE, a member of WIN, details the condition of twelve key infrastructure areas, including drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, which received a “D” or “poor” and has declined over the past several years. A 20-member advisory council of civil engineers evaluated existing data to provide a forecast for each infrastructure category and found that an estimated $1.6 trillion investment is needed over the next five years to secure and protect the public’s health and safety, of which $11 billion per year is required to overcome the drinking water infrastructure shortfall and $12 billion for wastewater infrastructure. For more information on the 2003 Progress Report please visit the ASCE website at www.asce.org/reportcard.

WIN Appears on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight
William Schatz, General Counsel, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland, Ohio, appeared on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight last week on behalf of the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) and re-emphasized the need for long-term, sustainable funding for the nation’s clean and safe water infrastructure. The program was one in a series of news stories that CNN is conducting on the condition and needs of the nation’s various infrastructures following recent power outages. Schatz discussed the growing funding gap and stated that “… because of the lack of sustainable federal funding, or any funding source, we have been unable to spend all of the dollars that need to be spent for these additional capital projects.” Schatz was joined on the program by G. Tracy Mehan III, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, who restated the Agency’s estimate of a clean and safe water infrastructure funding gap in the hundreds of billions of dollars and that action is needed now to avoid serious problems down the road. The American Water Works Association’s Executive Director, Jack Hoffbuhr, also appeared on the program. This high-profile broadcast demonstrates WIN’s commitment to increasing its grassroots outreach effort on this vital issue. A transcript of the program is available at http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0308/19/ldt.00.html.

 
Newswatch
Legislative Activity

WIN Reports

Still Living without the Basics in the 21st Century: An Analysis of Gaps in Infrastructure Accessibility and Other Challenges for the New Millennium.
ALL DRIED UP: How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts

Water Infrastructure
Now
Clean & Safe Water
for the 21st Century
Dawn of the Replacement Era: Reinvesting in Drinking Water Infrastructure
 
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