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Nation's Cities Weekly
Copyright 2001 Gale Group Inc. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT 2001 National
League of Cities

Monday, May 28, 2001

ISSN: 0164-5935; Volume 24; Issue 21

Steering Committee Discusses Environmental, Energy Issues.(Energy, Environment,
and Natural Resources Committee meets on water infrastructure financing)(Brief
Joanna Liberman

Councilman T.J. Patterson from Lubbock, Tex., and chair of the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR) Committee welcomed 25 local officials from across the country to a meeting held in Richmond, Va.

Patterson emphasized the importance of the policy committee's input
saying, "They have directed us to examine some tough issues this year:
water infrastructure financing, energy policy, and the Clean Air Act."

Comments from small groups of the policy committee's meeting in March
were included in each steering committee's packet, and Patterson
directed the committee to be mindful of them during the discussions at
the meeting.

Water Infrastructure Financing

Two years ago, the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies
(AMSA), along with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), documented a
gap in excess of $350 billion over the next 20 years in funding needs
for wastewater infrastructure.

The drinking water industry documented a similar gap of over $325
billion for the same time period for drinking water system
infrastructure. Recent EPA analyses confirm the accuracy of both these
figures. Combined, these surveys indicate that cities are facing close
to $1 trillion in costs to maintain, rehabilitate and replace their
drinking, wastewater, and wet weather infrastructure.

Each member of the committee was given a copy of the Water
Infrastructure Network (WIN) Coalition report entitled Water
Infrastructure Now, which urges Congress to begin to address these needs
by authorizing $57 billion for loans, grants, loan subsidies and credit
assistance to local systems for basic water infrastructure needs
beginning in 2003.

Tom Curtis, deputy executive director of the American Water Works
Association, reminded the committee that federal lawmakers need to hear
from people from home. "I urge you to contact your representatives and
tell them about your drinking water system needs. Congress will not
authorize this funding if they do not hear from you."

Echoing that message was Ken Kirk, executive director of the
Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA), who asked the
committee to build grass roots pressure at home.

Committee discussion then focused on the State Revolving Loan Funds (SRFs) which offer financing for compliance with mandates. Many in the committee felt that he next generation of federal assistance should include funding for this vital infrastructure. (See story on Mayor Bruce Tobey's meeting in Washington on page 5.)



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