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Water Infrastructure Funding Bill Introduced in Congress

WASHINGTON US Reps. Sue Kelly, R-NY, and Ellen O. Tauscher, D-CA, this week introduced in the House of Representatives a bipartisan Clean Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2003 (HR 20), which would provide $25 billion over five years for the state revolving fund used for much-needed water and wastewater infrastructure upgrade and rehabilitation.

The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) applauded the move as a significant grant component to aid distressed communities who must improve water and wastewater systems.

AMSA said in a news release that the bill is an important demonstration that the 108th Congress remains committed to clean water infrastructure funding and constitutes a first step toward an ultimate solution to the water infrastructure funding shortfall which resides in a long-term, sustainable funding source.

"The United States faces a looming crisis to the nation's wastewater infrastructure, as pipes and systems age and are in desperate need of upgrade and repair," said Ken Kirk, AMSA executive director of AMSA.

"Municipalities now shoulder 90 percent of these infrastructure costs, but they cannot continue to foot this massive infrastructure bill alone, especially as local budgets continue to shrink and municipalities face daunting security costs.

"Without a serious, long-term commitment from the federal government, the wastewater infrastructure funding need over the next twenty years will only rise dramatically and we will have missed our opportunity to ensure the nation's clean water future".

AMSA has been a vocal member of the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), a coalition of interests seeking federal help to lose the gap between funds allocated for infrastructure and funds actually needed for such projects.

In WIN's report, Clean and Safe Water for the 21st Century, the group said a $12 billion annual shortfall exists for wastewater infrastructure over the next twenty years.

These startling estimates have been bolstered by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Government Accounting Office, and the Congressional Budget Office, demonstrating the enormity of the water infrastructure funding need, AMSA said.

To overcome the funding shortfall, AMSA is calling on Congress and the president to act swiftly on new legislation to finance a long-term, sustainable, and reliable source of funding for clean water, focusing on critical "core" wastewater infrastructure needs.

AMSA said it hopes the bill will spur bipartisan support in Congress for such a solution and will continue to work with Representatives Kelly and Tauscher, and the 108th Congress toward this end.

AMSA is a national trade association representing hundreds of the nation's publicly owned wastewater utilities.

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