National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

NACWA Applauds House Effort to Secure Funding for Clean Water Infrastructure

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) applauds the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment for moving expeditiously to approve legislation that would increase funding for the nation’s clean water infrastructure.  The bipartisan Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 (H.R. 720), introduced by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the full committee, would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) at $20 billion over five years. Also cosponsoring the bill are Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska), former chair of the committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chair of the subcommittee, and Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.). The full committee will mark up the bill Feb. 7, and Chairman Oberstar said he wants to move the bill to the floor by Feb. 12.

While NACWA appreciates and supports this important legislation and the high priority the committee has put on funding for clean water infrastructure, this action is only the beginning of the difficult task of securing a much-needed federal recommitment to the nation’s waterways.  Only such a recommitment can address the funding gap estimated by the U.S. EPA, the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and others at $300 - $500 billion. 

“This is a very important first step in our efforts to meet the high-priority needs of clean water utilities across the nation,” Ken Kirk, NACWA executive director, said. “However, without a dedicated source of funding, the progress we have made over the past 35 years to clean up the nation’s waters will be lost. Even EPA acknowledges that our waters could become as polluted as they were before the 1972 Clean Water Act was passed if we don’t act to address these critical infrastructure needs now.”

NACWA, in particular, appreciates the inclusion of provisions calling for a study on potential funding mechanisms and funding sources available to establish a clean water trust fund.  NACWA believes a trust fund, similar to what is available for highways and airports, is necessary to close the enormous infrastructure funding gap.

At the Jan. 19 hearing before the subcommittee, Kurt Soderberg, executive director of the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, in Duluth, Minn., a NACWA member agency, discussed the importance of a federal recommitment to clean water saying “reduced federal spending and increased federal mandates are taking their toll on utilities. The collective aging of our pipes and systems further limits our ability to meet the objectives of the Clean Water Act.”

NACWA members are proud of their service as environmental stewards, devoting their lives to ensure clean water for all Americans.  NACWA looks forward to working with Chairman Oberstar and the other committee members on developing legislation that guarantees a robust SRF and a reliable source of funding to protect America’s clean water infrastructure and precious water resources for generations to come.

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