Committee approves water infrastructure legislation
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee members applauded passage of The Water Infrastructure Financing Act, which provides the foundation for our nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure...
WASHINGTON, DC, May 14, 2009 -- U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Water and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairman, along with Environment & Public Works (EPW) Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK), and subcommittee ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID), applauded Committee passage of The Water Infrastructure Financing Act, which provides the foundation for our nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
The bill, which passed the Committee today with overwhelming bipartisan support, makes important reforms and increases investment in the Clean Water State Revolving fund, which has not been reauthorized in 22 years, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which has not been reauthorized since 1996.
The bill contains authorizations for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, expands eligibility for funding for projects including storm water management, water conservation, or efficiency projects, reuse and recycling projects.
Senator Boxer said, "The Water Infrastructure Financing Act is a historic milestone in protecting the health of American families from coast to coast. Thanks to the partnership among the four key leaders from both parties on the Committee, we have reported a bill that invests in protecting the health of American families, that creates jobs and encourages communities to use the latest green technologies. It has been over 20 years since we have reauthorized the Clean Water Revolving Fund, and more than 12 years since we reauthorized the Drinking Water Revolving Fund -- I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this important legislation forward."
"The overwhelming bi-partisan vote today for our water infrastructure bill shows that we have a good chance of passing it on the Senate Floor," Senator Inhofe said. "Through my leadership position on the EPW Committee, I have made reauthorization of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) one of my top priorities. I am pleased to have worked closely with Senators Cardin, Crapo and Boxer to pass our bill that balances the needs of all states, especially rural states like Oklahoma. Addressing our nation's water needs must be one of our top priorities. For far too long the federal government has burdened state and local governments with unfunded mandates. This bi-partisan bill will go a long way in helping our state and local communities meet their water needs."
"The highest priorities of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee are to ensure that all Americans have clean and safe drinking water and that our aging national water infrastructure can handle all that we ask of it. The health and safety of our citizens, our rivers and streams, and our economy depend on clean, flowing water," said Senator Cardin. "I appreciate the bipartisan support from Chairman Boxer, Senators Inhofe and Crapo, in crafting legislation that allows us to reinvest in America, providing thousands of new jobs and meeting our basic water quality needs."
"Today marks a significant breakthrough for clean water in this country, which I believe is amongst the highest priority environmental issues of our time," Senator Crapo said. "The bipartisan, collaborative effort taken made this bill reality. This has been an issue that preceded my election to the Senate in 1998. Since that time, we tried several times, to no avail, to come to agreement on this much-needed legislation. And today we have finally achieved that long-sought after goal. I am particularly pleased that my efforts on behalf of small states like Idaho paid off, and this bill will dramatically raise the amount of money that Idaho and other small states can receive for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. I applaud Senators Boxer, Inhofe and Cardin for their hard work on this bill, and I look forward continuing our work on this in order to get this done for Idaho and the nation."
Highlights of the Water Infrastructure Financing Act:
• Increases the Clean Water SRF to $20 billion over five years and Drinking Water SRF to $14.7 billion over five years.
• $1.8 billion nationwide grant program to address combined sewer overflows
• $60 million/year nationwide grant program to provide funding to states and municipalities to reduce lead in drinking water
• $50 million nationwide grant program to address agriculture-related water quality issues
• New incentives, including for green infrastructure projects
• Additional flexibility in the Clean Water SRF to help low-income communities
• New Research and voluntary incentive program to address water conservation, efficiency, and recycling.
• Funding allocations through the new Clean Water SRF formula are based primarily on the 2004 EPA needs survey, the most comprehensive and objective data available on our national wastewater infrastructure needs.