Washington, DC, March 26, 2009 — More than 130 water professionals from 48 states came to Capitol Hill this week to raise critical safe drinking water issues with several hundred members of Congress during the annual Water Matters! Fly In event, sponsored by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
"This is an important time in the history of America's water infrastructure and supplies," said AWWA Executive Director Gary Zimmerman. "Our nation's water professionals possess the knowledge and energy to help Congress develop solutions for our complex water challenges."
This year's AWWA Fly In, March 24-25, highlighted important water issues such as:
• Sustainable Water Infrastructure – AWWA believes the best way to address the needed repairs and replacement of our nation's drinking water infrastructure is through self-sustaining rates. However, the federal government can play a leadership role by helping to lower the cost of capital for water and wastewater investments.
• Chemical Facility Security – AWWA believes in taking smart steps to secure our water systems and that any chemical security legislation must:
-- Allow decisions about disinfectant choices to be made locally.
-- Prohibit the federal government from ordering the shut-down of water facilities.
-- Apply only to drinking water systems if they have chemicals of concern above certain threshold quantities.
• Climate Change Legislation – To help address the threat of global climate change on the world's water resources, AWWA supports legislation that provides funding for water-focused climate change research and the development and implementation of climate change adaptation projects by drinking water utilities.
• Drinking Water Appropriations – AWWA supports appropriations that adequately fund several programs which protect public health, including:
-- $3.5 billion for the Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund;
-- $1.5 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund;
-- $200 million for the state Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) grants;
-- $60 million for drinking water health effects research at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and
-- $5 million for the Water Research Foundation.
"We live in a time when water stewardship and water quality are of increasing importance in the minds of elected leaders and consumers," said AWWA President Mike Leonard. "This week's conversations with Congress will help shape productive water policy across the United States for many years to come."