Sustainable Water Infrastructure Coalition Newsletter — Senate Dems Call for Broader Water Infrastructure Investment

Senator Ben Cardin

Senator Ben Cardin

In April, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and many Democratic colleagues introduced the Testing, Removal, and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure, and Pipes Act of 2016 or the True LEADership Act of 2016, S. 2821. The lead reduction and water infrastructure bill calls for robust investment in the nation’s aging water and wastewater systems and has the support of approximately one-third of the Senate. The legislation includes the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act (S. 2606) language to remove water and wastewater projects from the private activity bond (PAB) state volume caps.

“The lead poisoning of children in Flint, Michigan, is a national tragedy,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “The

Senator Barbra Boxer

Senator Barbra Boxer

American people have a right to expect safe, clean water when they turn on their faucets, and no child should be afraid of being poisoned in their own home. That is why it is so important that my colleagues and I are introducing this comprehensive legislation that addresses lead contaminated water, provides much-needed investment in our drinking water infrastructure, and will improve our response to a future drinking water crisis.”

“We urgently need to minimize the risks to our communities and our children,” added Cardin. “Urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods — in every community in America — all rely on safe, clean water. Our health and our livelihoods will continue to be in danger if we do not act swiftly and decisively. We can and must immediately do more as a country to better protect our waters and our kids, and the True LEADership Act will help us do exactly that.”
“This package provides a comprehensive response to our national lead public health emergency, safeguarding our drinking water, keeping lead out of our homes, updating outdated standards, putting people to work to repair aging water systems and protecting our children and our future,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

“I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in supporting and passing this common-sense legislation,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Support Grows to Rescind ATVM Program

Sen-mendez

Senator Bob Mendez

Also in April, 48 U.S. Senators voted to end the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program, which was designed to provide loans for businesses that manufacture fuel-efficient, advanced-technology vehicles and components in the United States. “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended three times that this program be terminated. It has proven it is a losing program,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a proponent of the amendment.

According to GAO, the program currently has $4 billion in unexpended funds and one outstanding loan of $5.9 billion to Ford Motor Company. Sens. Bob Menendez and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) have proposed using the unused appropriations to fund water and wastewater infrastructure initiatives such as Flint aid legislation to reduce lead in drinking water and PAB legislation for water and wastewater projects.

Sen-Shumer

Senator Chuch Shumer

A recent report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows that for every one dollar invested in water and sewer infrastructure, approximately $8.97 are added to the national economy. In other words, a $10 billion transfer of funds from the federal ATVM program to water and wastewater infrastructure projects would infuse $89.7 billion into the nation’s water infrastructure and economy.  Moreover, it would have no negative impact on the federal budget. Contact your Members of Congress today and ask them to rescind the ATVM program and reinvest the unexpended funds to rebuild the nation’s aging water and wastewater infrastructure.

A New Path Forward

The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Coalition (SWIC) supports comprehensive water and wastewater legislation that:

Increases clean water and drinking water state revolving loan funds that provide low cost loans for infrastructure improvements;

Supports new and innovative ways to invest in infrastructure — WIFIA;

Encourages more private investment and public-private partnerships;

Provides technical support to help communities keep up with federal mandates; and Minimizes undue burden on small communities.

SWIC strongly urges Congress to advance comprehensive water and wastewater infrastructure legislation and the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act to help rebuild and improve the nation’s vital water infrastructure, protect public health and foster economic growth. Moreover, SWIC supports the use of unexpended appropriations, especially from inactive federal programs to help rebuild and improve our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

About SWIC

SWIC is a broad-based alliance of public and private organizations representing all aspects of the water and wastewater community and construction industry including utilities, construction contractors, labor unions, engineering companies, pipe and equipment manufacturers and suppliers, financial institutions and other interested stakeholders. For more information, visit SWIC on the web at www.sustainablewaterinfrastructure.com.

The SWIC Newsletter for Water Finance & Management is authored by SWIC Executive Director Bruce Morgan, Principal of Water Policy Associates. He can be reached at bruce@waterpolicyassociates.com.

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