American Rivers: House appropriators increase clean water investment fund -- slightly

American Rivers praised lawmakers in the U.S. House for restoring some funds the White House wanted to cut from the 2006 federal clean water trust fund. The House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee voted to invest $850 million in the CWSRF, an increase of $120 over the President's budget request but $500 million below recent years and far short of what is necessary to address the problem of failing sewer systems across the country...

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2005 (U.S. Newswire) -- American Rivers praised lawmakers in the House of Representatives for restoring some of the funds the White House wanted to cut from the federal clean water trust fund for 2006. The House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee voted to invest $850 million in the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, an increase of $120 million over President Bush's budget request but still $500 million below recent years and far short of what is necessary to address the problem of failing sewer systems across the country.

"These lawmakers did what they could and we applaud them for it," said Peter Raabe, Deputy Director of Government Affairs. "But this level of investment is still far short of what is necessary to keep the water clean enough for ourselves and our children to enjoy."

The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund program disperses low interest loans and grants to states to help local communities meet water quality standards, fix old and decaying pipelines and treatment plants, curb urban and rural runoff, restore estuaries, and ensure continued progress in protecting the public's health and the nation's resources. The program has provided more than 14,200 low-interest loans totaling $47 billion since 1988. This clean water funding is the most successful federal water-quality funding program in the nation's history.

America's water infrastructure is in dire need of increased investment. Many systems are using antiquated pipes that up to 100 years old. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency projects that a total investment of $388 billion is necessary by 2019 to ensure that Americans continue to have access to clean water. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that nearly $20 billion is required in each of the next 20 years to simply provide clean and safe water for our families.

Between 23,000 and 75,000 sewage overflows occur nationwide every year, resulting in the release of 3 billion to 10 billion gallons of untreated wastewater directly into our rivers and streams, according to EPA estimates. Raw sewage contains diseases like E. coli, salmonella, dysentery, hepatitis, and others, and millions of Americans get sick every year after swimming in or drinking contaminated water. Victims usually contract gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses, but these can be life-threatening for children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

"Communities all over the country are looking to their river and water fronts as catalyst of economic activity," Raabe said. "Now is not the time for the federal government to undercut their efforts, no one wants to go shopping or eat at a restaurant along a river that smells and looks foul with raw sewage in it."

State by state breakdowns of allocations under various funding scenarios is available at:
http://www.americanrivers.org/site/DocServer/2006_house_clean_water_appropriations_by_state.pdf?docID=1561.

For additional details, see:
"Clean Water Funding Under Attack . . . AGAIN!"
-- EPA Clean Water State Revolving Fund Home Page
-- EPA Clean Water Financing Home Page

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