“Congress recognizes what we have been saying all along — that the nation’s aging water and wastewater infrastructure is in desperate need of resources to help our communities continue to provide strong environmental and public health protections while ensuring that we remain economically strong,” NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk said. “While NACWA has identified more than $17 billion in ready-to-go infrastructure projects, the $6 billion is an important step in re-establishing the critical federal, state, and local partnership needed to ensure we can continue to provide vital clean water services.”
NACWA and its partners in the clean water community have argued that the best way to put Americans back to work is through grants that can be used to pay for water and wastewater infrastructure projects that are ready to go.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) estimate a $300-$500 billion funding gap over 20 years between what is needed to upgrade and repair the nation’s wastewater infrastructure and how much is being spent. Population increases, aging pipes and equipment, new water quality challenges including climate change, nutrient controls, and other requirements are placing more demands on publicly owned wastewater treatment agencies. Communities currently bear 95 percent of the cost of clean water, even as these demands increase. The federal share has dropped from 78 percent in the 1970s to less than 5 percent today. To help fill the gap, ratepayers, already constrained by the sagging economy, are facing higher water and sewer bills.
NACWA looks forward to working with members of the House and Senate as this important legislation is being considered. However, public agency members recognize that the job is far from over. A long-term, sustainable source of funding in the form of a trust fund will be needed to ensure clean water agencies can continue to provide their critical environmental and public health services.