Water infrastructure legislation approved by Energy & Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON, DC, May 26, 2010 -- The Committee on Energy and Commerce has approved the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010, which would reauthorize and increase funding for the drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) under the Safe Drinking Water Act...

WASHINGTON, DC, May 26, 2010 -- Today the Committee on Energy and Commerce approved by a vote of 45 to 1, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010 (H.R. 5320, the "AQUA Act"). The legislation would reauthorize and increase funding for the drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The drinking water SRF provides an important source of funding for public water systems, which are projected to face a significant increase in investment needs as existing infrastructure ages.

"The AQUA Act addresses the urgent need for investment in our water infrastructure, while also creating thousands of jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors," said Chairman Henry A. Waxman. "The legislation has strong support from a broad group of stakeholders because it is forward-thinking and will ensure that communities can continue to provide safe, affordable drinking water to American families."

"This critical bill will create jobs and increase the funding for our nation's aging water infrastructure systems," said Chairman Edward J. Markey. "The bill will also help prepare for the future by placing a new emphasis on cutting-edge technologies, helping to ensure a reliable supply of drinking water for years to come. I'm also pleased that my language to strengthen the EPA's testing program for potentially harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals was also agreed to."

The AQUA Act will amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to increase assistance to states, water systems, and disadvantaged communities, strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement authority, encourage good financial and environmental management of water systems, reduce lead in drinking water, and strengthen the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. The bill will encourage water systems to anticipate future replacement and rehabilitation needs, and also improve the ability of states to prioritize projects that promote the efficiency, sustainability, and long-term viability of water systems.

The Committee approved a manager's amendment by a voice vote which would limit the authorization period to three years, gradually increase the authorization from $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion, increase the amount of SRF funding that can be reserved for the U.S. territories, encourage states to ensure transparency in development of affordability criteria, and amend provisions governing the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. Additionally, the Committee adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Bobby L. Rush to provide for the electronic reporting of compliance monitoring data to the EPA. An amendment offered by Rep. Betty Sutton, which would require the use of American materials for projects funded by the SRF, was adopted.

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