Water groups testify at Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

The hearing was titled "The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable."

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WASHINGTON, DC, April 7, 2016 -- Water groups today testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, “The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable.” Among those in attendance were Rudolph Chow, Director of the Baltimore Department of Public Works, who testified today on behalf of his agency, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the WateReuse Association; and National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) President Joe Gysel, who testified on behalf of EPCOR Water USA, Inc. and NAWC.

Chow's remarks focused on three main points: Affordability -- The challenges communities are having with meeting their regulatory requirements with limited funds is a national problem; Federal Funding of Infrastructure -- Congress should provide robust support for existing and proposed federal funding and financing programs; and Economic Benefits of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs (SRF) -- at the Committee’s request, WEF and WateReuse recently conducted an analysis of the estimated economic impact generated by SRF spending in four example states, including taxes that return to the federal government and the employment and output from that spending. The four states -- California, Maryland, Ohio, and Oklahoma -- were chosen as a good cross-section of states across the nation that were representative of geographic size, population size, cost of living, rural/urban populations, and general age of infrastructure.

Although WEF and WateReuse are still finalizing the analysis that will go into the Committee's official record, the preliminary results revealed that on average, for every one million of SRF dollars spent in those four states, there was a significant return to the national and local economies. Notable examples include: $160,000 to $695,000 in federal tax revenue; national and local job creation, including high-paying positions that bring in an estimated $60,000 in labor income per job; and an average of $2.25 million dollars in total output for the states' economies.

Gysel, President of EPCOR Water USA, Inc., discussed the state of the nation's water infrastructure, public-private partnerships in the water sector and the role of private water management companies, including investor-owned utilities. He also commented on the role the federal government can play in stimulating much-needed investment in the systems that deliver this critical resource. Explaining the role NAWC member companies play in assisting communities facing water challenges, Gysel pointed to the unique strengths and operational acumen of the private sector.

“NAWC members have the best compliance track record in the industry. A 2011 survey by American Water Intelligence of EPA Safe Drinking Water Act violations for the previous five years found over 2,900 sites in violation among government-owned systems—only 14 violations were found among regulated private utilities. Given the private industry’s expertise and exemplary compliance record, NAWC members are often asked by state regulators to revitalize non-compliant public systems," said Gysel.

Today’s hearing also serves as the ideal lead-in for Water Week 2016. Scheduled for April 10-16, this annual event provides an opportunity for water professionals from across the country to interact directly with their representatives and advocate for national policies that advance clean and safe waters in support of a healthy sustainable environment. For more information, event details, and agendas, visit www.WaterWeek.us.

About WEF
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 33,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment. As a global water sector leader, our mission is to connect water professionals; enrich the expertise of water professionals; increase the awareness of the impact and value of water; and provide a platform for water sector innovation. To learn more, visit www.wef.org.

About WateReuse
WateReuse is an international thought-leader on alternative water supply development and the global go-to source for applied research, education, and advocacy on water reuse. Representing a coalition that includes utilities, government agencies, and industry; WateReuse works to educate policymakers and the public on the science, economic value, and environmental benefits of treating water to safely use it for designated purposes, such as irrigation, manufacturing, and drinking. To learn more, visit www.watereuse.org.

About the NAWC
The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) is the voice of the private water industry and the organization exclusively representing this group of quality water service providers, innovation drivers, creative financiers and responsible partners. To learn more about NAWC, visit NAWC.org.

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