Clean, Drinking Water SRFs Would Shrink Under Proposed 2015 EPA Budget

Last month, the Obama Administration proposed a Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015) budget of $7.89 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This request is $309.9 million below the EPA?s enacted level for FY 2014.

?This budget is key to a new era of partnerships for the U.S. environmental protection enterprise, where EPA will work hand in hand ? with our sister federal agencies, states, tribes, localities, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, small businesses, industry, and other stakeholders ? to improve the health of families and protect the environment, one community at a time, all across the country,? said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. ?Our request focuses our resources on the things that really matter to the people of this country. We will seek to make a visible difference ? whether it is protecting our precious waters and leaving our children a legacy so they can safely drink water from their small community water systems and fish and swim in their local rivers; reducing air pollution along roadways and neighborhoods; or cleaning up communities to maximize environmental and economic benefits.?

The President?s FY 2015 request will allow the EPA to continue to transform the way it does business, ensuring the best use of human and financial resources, while continuing to achieve the agency?s mission effectively and efficiently. FY 2015 resources will focus on making progress in communities across the country on priority areas including climate change and air quality, toxics and chemical safety, and clean water.

The budget proposal to Congress would provide $1.8 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs, which is $581 million below the 2014 enacted level. The EPA budget overview states that the agency will focus on communities most in need of assistance and continuing to allow financing of approximately $6 billion annually in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects.

Nearly $60 billion has been provided for the programs to date, including more than $21 billion since 2009. Going forward, the agency will continue efforts to target assistance to small and underserved communities that have a limited ability to repay loans including tribes, the EPA says.

The budget would also provide $76 million more than in 2014 for categorical grants to states and tribes to implement their delegated authorities, including $20 million for implementing the President?s Climate Action Plan, $31 million to build tribal capacity and $18 million for water permitting and nutrient management initiatives.

Protecting the Nation?s Waters
The nation?s water resources will continue to be an area of focus for the EPA. According to the agency, the FY 2015 budget recognizes the long-term benefits of healthy waterways and that they are vital to local economies, public health, property values, tourism, and fishing and hunting.

The agency is directing $8 million and 10 staff to advance clean water. As the EPA looks to protect the nation?s water, new approaches are also needed to make progress. A centerpiece of this strategy is a water quality framework to improve return on investment, accountability and environmental results. These resources will help the agency continue providing technical expertise for states and tribes as they implement EPA?s guidance for hydraulic fracturing activities. Funding will be used to help states and tribes make sound permitting decisions and review complex data contained in applications for hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels. Implementation support will ensure that authorized agencies are effectively managing and overseeing the rapidly growing energy sector while preventing endangerment of underground sources of drinking water.

Promoting Sustainable Community Water Resources

The FY 2015 budget also seeks to ensure that federal dollars provided through the State Revolving Funds (SRF) act as a catalyst for efficient system-wide planning, improvements in technical, financial, and managerial capacity, and the design, construction and ongoing management of sustainable water infrastructure. On top of the FY 2015 budget request of $1.8 billion for the Clean and Drinking Water SRFs, federal capitalization of the SRFs totals more than $22 billion since FY 2009. According to EPA, the agency is working to expand and institutionalize the use of up-front planning that considers a full range of infrastructure alternatives, including green infrastructure.

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