Congressmen Introduce Water Infrastructure Trust Fund Act

Last week, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), John Duncan (R-Tenn.), and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) introduced the?Water Investment Trust Fund Act?? legislation that will provide a small, deficit-neutral, protected source of revenue to help states replace, repair, and rehabilitate critical clean and drinking water facilities by creating a voluntary labeling and contributory system to which businesses that rely on a clean water source could opt-in.

?Water infrastructure is a local issue ? from a giant sinkhole in Gresham, Oregon, to poisoned water in Flint, Michigan,? said Blumenauer. ?For too long, we?ve let critical water systems simply fall apart, just because it?s out of sight. The?Water Infrastructure Trust Fund Act?will provide needed revenue for states and local governments to make overdue investments in wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and will also take a hard look at the systemic challenges affecting access to safe water in low-income populations. Congress must do more, not only to meet the huge need for water infrastructure investments, but also to understand why failing infrastructure hits the most vulnerable communities the hardest.?

The?Water Infrastructure Trust Fund Act?allows businesses to choose to place a small label on their products indicating their commitment to protecting America?s clean water, contributing $0.03 to the Water Infrastructure Trust Fund for each unit bearing the label. The Trust Fund revenue will be distributed to the states as grants and loans through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) to help public water systems finance wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects. The legislation also commissions an EPA study of the water affordability gap facing low-income populations and an analysis of solutions to systemic barriers affecting access to safe water systems.

As seen by the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., investment is critical to maintaining and improving water infrastructure, Blumenauer explained in a statement announcing the legislation. Water infrastructure problems, however, are not confined to tragedies such as these. Last year alone, American communities suffered more than 240,000 water main breaks and saw overflowing combined sewer systems ? causing contamination, property damage, disruptions in the water supply, and massive traffic jams.

?As recent events have shown us, clean water is a precious resource that we cannot take for granted,? said Duncan. ?As co-chair of the Clean Water Caucus, I am proud to co-sponsor this bill that will provide the needed funding to improve our Nation?s water infrastructure at no cost to the taxpayers.?Much of our water infrastructure is over 100 years old. If we do not start making wise investments now, it is going to cost much, much more in the future. This is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that our communities have access to clean water for many years to come.?

?Much of our water infrastructure has been neglected for decades, which poses great health risks not to mention potentially billions of dollars in liabilities,??added Hanna. ?We need to ensure that there is a long-term plan in place to address our water infrastructure ? our pipes, drains, sewers ? to repair our aging systems and make certain that we are upgrading our water systems in a responsible way. Water infrastructure in towns and villages across the country is in poor shape and crumbling. I proudly support this bill to make certain that we are fully funding this program and we can continue to solve so many of these critical issues.?

The?Water Investment Trust Fund Act?is supported by the American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Works Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, Associated General Contractors, Distribution Contractors Association, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National League of Cities, and the Plastics Pipes Institute.

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