NACWA warns against proposed ‘radical spending cuts’ to SRFs in FY24

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) expressed deep concern last week about the potential for Congress to move forward on massive spending cuts being proposed for the Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.

These programs had been previously designated for expansion in FY24 to $3 billion apiece through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. But now, the House Appropriations Committee is proposing cutting water funding by more than half in its Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Spending Bill.

According to NACWA, the committee’s proposed legislation to rein in what it called “wasteful spending” for “low priority programs” would cut appropriations for State Revolving Funds to a terminal level, effectively killing these vital programs supporting public water utilities.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) would be reduced from $1.64 billion in FY23 to $535 million in FY24 (67 percent reduction), and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) reduced from $1.13 billion in FY23 to $460.61 million in FY24 (59 percent reduction). The CWSRF figure is only 17 percent of the authorized level of funding under BIL, and the DWSRF figure only 15 percent. NACWA warned that the already underfunded water sector cannot absorb additional funding cuts at this level.

“The House Appropriations Committee is asking Congress to cut funding for key water programs at the worst time possible,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “What we need to do is increase the State Revolving Funds to their fully authorized levels to close the water investment gap and help address the growing, low-income water affordability challenge. Water experts on both sides of the aisle are watching extreme rain and flooding events ravage New York and Vermont [last] week, and every corner of the country is at greater risk from climate impacts. So, no responsible lawmakers who are listening closely to their constituents can deny the public outcry for adequately funding water infrastructure at this critical juncture. Congress needs to put a stop to political posturing. Proposing radical spending cuts like this is a waste of time. We need to get down to business and fix our clean water infrastructure. Earmarks are helpful but given the huge water funding need they should be in addition to a fully funded SRF.”

NACWA has said in recent reports that costs of providing basic water services are growing for a variety of factors, including the need for communities to update aging infrastructure, comply with new regulatory mandates, address increasingly complex water quality challenges related to nutrients and emerging contaminants like PFAS, and improve system resilience to climate change and extreme weather.

NACWA Chief Advocacy & Policy Officer Nathan Gardner-Andrews added: “Although the current proposal just represents the Committee’s starting point for negotiations with the Senate, draconian spending cuts like this to the State Revolving Funds endanger the health and safety of American families by underfunding clean water services to an unsustainable level. It is vital that Congress appropriates the full authorized funding levels for water, wastewater, stormwater, and water recycling programs in FY24 so that local utilities and their customers have the resources to affordably invest in water infrastructure and meet their federal regulatory obligations.”

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