Water issues have their day on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, DC, March 24, 2010 -- Smart water security policy and infrastructure funding were top issues for more than 130 water utility professionals from throughout the United States who took to Capitol Hill at the ninth Water Matters Fly-In, sponsored by AWWA...

• More than 130 water leaders meet with Congress at AWWA Fly-In

WASHINGTON, DC, March 24, 2010 -- Smart water security policy and infrastructure funding were top issues for more than 130 water utility professionals from throughout the United States who took to Capitol Hill today at the ninth Water Matters Fly-In, sponsored by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

"Providing safe water for all Americans should be a top priority for every member of Congress," said AWWA President Craig R. Woolard. "This week, AWWA members are bringing legislators the information they need to make the right decisions to protect public health and safety."

Key issues highlighted during the Fly In included:

• Water Infrastructure Needs: AWWA and others have documented that U.S. water and wastewater infrastructure is aging and that many communities need to invest in repair and rehabilitation. To that end, AWWA urges Congress to:

1. Create a federal Water Infrastructure Bank which would provide low-cost capital to water utilities and to State Revolving Funds.
2. Support reform and expanded capitalization of state revolving loan fund programs for drinking water and wastewater. To that end, the Senate should bring to the floor and vote for S.1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act.
3. Remove water projects from the state volume cap on Private Activity Bonds by supporting H.R. 537, the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act.

• Chemical Security Legislation -- A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall, H.R. 2868, would create a new chemical security program for water and wastewater utilities under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security providing input for the new regulatory process. The bill would place final decision on which materials -- primarily disinfectants -- or processes a water utility may use outside of the local community and with already under-resourced state drinking water primacy agencies.

AWWA is urging members of Congress to support security legislation that applies to water utilities only if it:

1. Does not include authority to order the use of "inherently safer technology." Decisions concerning utility choice of disinfectant are complex, are based on critical local factors, and must remain local decisions.

2. Provides adequate protection of sensitive information. Personnel who are not water system employees, their contractors, or government agents, should not have access to or be involved in the development of vulnerability assessments or site security plans.

Among the many other issues water professionals are discussing with lawmakers this week include climate change impacts, pharmaceutical compounds in water, carbon sequestration, hydraulic fracturing and perchlorate.

AWWA is the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the entire water community. Through our collective strength we become better stewards of water for the greatest good of the people and the environment.

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