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 methods.
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
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 years ago.
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 water.
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 needs.
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.