Groups call for new investment in America's water infrastructure

Congress should pass legislation this year to renew the nation's commitment to clean and safe water, according to a new report from the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN).

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2001 (PRNewswire) — Congress should pass legislation this year to renew the nation's commitment to clean and safe water, according to a new report from the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), a non-partisan coalition of local elected officials, drinking water and wastewater service providers, environmental groups, labor unions, and construction and engineering professionals.

In the report released today, the network calls for a five-year, $57 billion federal investment in drinking water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure to replace aging pipes, upgrade treatment systems, and continue to protect public health and the environment. The report also urges Congress to create a long-term, sustainable, and reliable source of federal funding for clean and safe water.

The report, entitled Water Infrastructure Now, states that the funding increase is urgently needed to help close a $23 billion per year gap between infrastructure needs and current spending.

Cities, counties, and other local agencies supply the public with tap water, and they collect, treat and dispose of sewage and urban runoff. Local governments and their ratepayers currently cover 90 percent of the costs to build, operate and maintain public water and sewer systems. But, as older systems deteriorate and water quality rules tighten, local budgets simply cannot keep pace.

"The staggering cost of maintaining, operating, rehabilitating, and replacing our aging water infrastructure requires a new partnership between federal, state and local government," said Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, President of the National League of Cities. "We call upon the new leadership in Washington to renew the federal financial commitment to assist local governments in meeting the growing water and wastewater infrastructure needs."

To bridge the investment gap, the federal government should meet localities halfway — by authorizing an average of $11.5 billion in capitalization funds over five years — the report proposes. States would receive the funds and in turn offer grants and loans to local agencies. In an era of unprecedented federal surpluses, the time for renewing the nation's commitment to its water resources is now, states the report.

Other legislative recommendations in the report include:

* Authorizing a variety of financing mechanisms, such as grants, loans,

loan subsidies and credit assistance;

* Focusing on critical "core" water and wastewater infrastructure needs

and nonpoint source pollution;

* Streamlining the federal and state administration of infrastructure

funds and adequately financing state programs;

* Establishing a new program for technology and management innovation to

reduce costs, prolong the life of America's water infrastructure, and

improve productivity; and

* Providing expanded, targeted technical assistance to communities most in

need.

Twenty-nine organizations have endorsed the Water Infrastructure Now recommendations.

* American Coal Ash Association ACAA

* American Concrete Pipe Association ACPA

* American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association ACPPA

* American Consulting Engineers Council ACEC

* American Public Works Association APWA

* American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE

* American Water Works Association AWWA

* Associated General Contractors of America AGC

* Association of California Water Agencies ACWA

* Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies AMSA

* Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies AMWA

* California Rebuild America Coalition CalRAC

* Clean Water Action CWA

* Environmental and Energy Study Institute EESI

* Environmental Business Action Coalition EBAC

* International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO IUOE

* Laborers' International Union of North America LIUNA

* National Association of Counties NACo

* National Association of Flood and

Stormwater Management Agencies NAFSMA

National Association of Towns and Townships NATaT

National League of Cities NLC

National Rural Water Association NRWA

National Society of Professional Engineers NSPE

National Urban Agriculture Council NUAC

Prestressed/Precast Concrete Institute PCI

Rural Community Assistance Program, Inc. RCAP

Water Environment Federation WEF

WateReuse Association WateReuse

Western Coalition of Arid States WESTCAS

The Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) is a broad-based coalition of local elected officials, drinking water and wastewater service providers, state environmental and health administrators, engineers and environmentalists dedicated to preserving and protecting the health, environmental and economic gains that America's drinking and wastewater infrastructure provides.

SOURCE: Water Environment Federation

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