U.S. Conference of Mayors Addresses Costs of Unfunded Environmental Mandates

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a landmark federal law protecting water resources in the United States, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) hosted a panel discussion with five mayors on May 31 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The mayors included Hallandale Beach, Fla. Mayor Joy Cooper; Chicopee, Mass. Mayor Michael Bissonnette; Omaha, Neb. Mayor Jim Suttle; Lima, Ohio Mayor Dave Berger; and Chattanooga, Tenn. Mayor Ron Littlefield.
During the session, the mayors highlighted the progress that has been made, as well as underscore the urgent need for reform of rules governing city-water systems as aggressive, environmental unfunded mandates collide with the ability of cities to pay for them.

The mayors also engaged in an interactive conversation with reporters to explain their local challenges and their interactions with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as offer suggestions to both EPA and Congress to better meet the water and wastewater needs of cities and their residents.

Providing safe and adequate water and wastewater infrastructure and services is the third largest expenditure of municipalities after education and electrical supply, yet the EPA continues to pursue a program that expands the responsibility of cities and significantly increases their financial burden. Cities are almost single-handedly shouldering this burden while also dealing with increasing long-term debt and shrinking municipal funds.

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