Water infrastructure bill seeks to remove financing constraints

WASHINGTON, DC, May 16, 2011 -- A piece of legislation introduced in the House last week aims to stimulate the economy through investment in our nation's aging water infrastructure...

WASHINGTON, DC, May 16, 2011 -- A piece of legislation introduced in the House last week aims to stimulate the economy through investment in our nation's aging water infrastructure.

H.R. 1802, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act of 2011, was introduced by U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Geoffrey Davis (R-KY). It seeks to remove the cap on private activity bonds for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

Removing this constraint would enable to states and municipalities more flexibility to invest in their water and wastewater infrastructure by working with private funding sources. It would bring water and wastewater funding options in line with other sectors, such as airports, high-speed rail and solid waste disposal, which are all currently exempt from existing caps. The bill would also generate significant tax revenue for state and local governments across the country.

The National Association of Water Companies applauded the legislation. "There is a $500 billion need for capital investment in our nation's aging water and wastewater infrastructure," said Michael Deane, executive director of NAWC. "Exempt facility bonds are the single-most effective financing tool the federal government can provide to communities to bring new money into long-term, capital-intensive infrastructure projects. This legislation will better equip local officials to meet the challenges of maintaining or improving essential water infrastructure by making repairs and construction more affordable for municipalities and, ultimately, customers."

American Water voiced its support as well. "This bi-partisan legislation will play a key role in enabling investment in our nation's water infrastructure," said Jeff Sterba, President and CEO of American Water. "Municipalities face competing demands for scarce financial resources right now and water infrastructure repair and improvement, though vital, is often deferred. Public-private partnerships are an essential part of the solution and this legislation will go a long way towards making more such partnerships a reality."

The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee for further deliberation.

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