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August 2001 News Archive


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Clean Water State Revolving Fund Reduced in Next Fiscal Year

The House Appropriations Committee (C.W. Young, R-Fla., chair.) approved $1.2 billion in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) for the coming fiscal year -- a decline of $150 million over current spending levels -- and provided an additional $200 million in "targeted grants" funding for urban wet weather initiatives in remediating sanitary and combined sewer overflows.

Congress approved the Wet Weather Water Quality Act last year, authorizing $1.5 billion over two years for sanitary and combined sewer overflow projects and $45 million in grants for wet weather watershed pilot programs.

This funding, however, was made contingent on an appropriation that fully funded ($1.350 billion) the CWSRF. While the administration proposed $450 million for sanitary and combined sewer overflowremediation, it requested only $850 million for the CWSRF.

The committee's report states that "funds available through the Clean Water SRF loan program can be used for CSO-related problems" and that additional funds can be made available through the targeted grants program for specific communities with CSO concerns.

The committee also directed EPA to establish a work group to assess the "basic means by which EPA may accord flexibility to the states and yet also assure that federal investments achieve the greatest possible benefits."

Noting recent studies indicating a decline in the nation's wastewater infrastructure, the subcommittee suggested that "many recipients of federal wastewater assistance have not instituted user fees to provide for long-term maintenance and repair of the infrastructure, and the results of that lack of maintenance are now evident."

City officials may wish to notify members of Congress of the increased costs of operating, maintaining, repairing, replacing and complying with federal mandates applicable to local water infrastructure and the corresponding increases in local drinking water and wastewater fees.

Appropriators also provided $75 million for clean water needs along the U.S./Mexico border; $30 million for Alaska rural and Native Villages; $21 million for the Chesapeake Bay program (+$2 million); $15.5 million (+$.5 million) for the Great Lakes; and, $7 million to develop and implement monitoring and information gathering programs for coastal beaches.

The committee took no further action with respect to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) -- which EPA is prohibited from implementing with funds appropriated in fiscal 2000 and 2001 -- but did admonish the agency to "carefully review" the study by the National Academy of Science (see NCW, 6/25/01) before moving forward with the regulation.

They also expressed their expectation that EPA would comply with the Congressional directive to review potential costs of the program and provide the required analysis of monitoring data needs.

Also approved by the committee was a modest $25 million increase in funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) for a total of $850 million -- $150 million less than the authorized level -- to assist local governments in complying with Safe Drinking Water Act mandates. In addition, appropriators agreed to $1.5 million for source water protection programs.

For Superfund, the nation's clean up program for the worst hazardous waste sites, the committee appropriated $915 million, of which $95 million is earmarked for brownfields (primarily abandoned industrial sites in urban areas) activities. These appropriations essentially continue funding at current levels.

Courtesy of......

Nation's Cities Weekly
League of Cities
Monday, July 23, 2001
by Carol Kocheisen

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