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Democrats Introduce Legislation to Help Communities Fund Clean Water Infrastructure Projects

Apr 15, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace Napolitano (D-CA) introduced legislation that will help communities finance critical clean water infrastructure projects. The “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2016”, would invest $20 billion over five years in wastewater infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and other efforts to improve water quality and create thousands of new, living wage construction jobs.

“As recent events in Flint, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; and Charleston, West Virginia, have shown, America’s water infrastructure is in dire need of renewed Federal investment. Currently, our communities face a backlog of over $40 billion in clean water infrastructure projects, and they need close to $300 billion of investment over the next 20 years to protect clean water and bring their systems to a state of good repair. We cannot continue to neglect the serious needs of our aging water infrastructure system. This legislation would help local governments repair and replace failing wastewater infrastructure, safeguard wastewater systems, and protect public health. I urge my Republican colleagues to support this legislation,” DeFazio said.

“The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act will help to address the current crisis we are facing in the West due to ongoing drought and increased stormwater control issues. It makes tremendous investments in water recycling and reuse, groundwater recharge, and stormwater projects, priorities we have worked on for decades in Southern California. Our bill delivers critical assistance to cities and water agencies to meet the demands of their water customers with cost effective and reliable solutions, as well as construct stormwater systems to address Clean Water Act stormwater permits,” Napolitano said.

Every Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has cosponsored the legislation.

Investing in clean water creates thousands of new, domestic jobs in the construction industry and reduces the overall costs of constructing and maintaining that infrastructure. According to National Utility Contractors Association, for every $1 billion spent on our Nation’s water infrastructure, 27,000 jobs are created in communities across America, while improving public health and the environment at the same time. In addition, according to the Water Environment Research Foundation, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities will contribute $524 billion to the U.S. economy over the next decade, supporting 289,000 permanent jobs. Without Federal investment, municipalities will be forced to cover more than 95 percent of the cost of clean water projects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that municipalities currently face a backlog of over $40 billion in clean water infrastructure projects. Over the next 20 years, they will need to invest an additional $300 billion to bring water infrastructure systems up to a state of good repair.

LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY

Title I – Water Quality Financing

  • Authorizes $20 billion in Federal grants over five years to capitalize Clean Water State Revolving Funds (“Clean Water SRFs”). These funds provide low-interest loans and additional loan subsidizations (e.g., principal forgiveness and negative interest loans) to communities for wastewater infrastructure.
  • Authorizes $1.5 billion over five years for grants for State water pollution control agencies to implement State water pollution control programs.
  • Provides $600 million over five years for Clean Water pilot programs (including Federal technical assistance and/or grants) for watershed-based or system-wide efforts to address wet weather discharges, to promote stormwater best management practices, to undertake integrated water resource management, and to increase the resiliency of treatment works to natural or man-made disasters.
  • Authorizes technical assistance to rural, small, and tribal communities to assist them in gaining access to financing wastewater infrastructure.
  • Includes economic incentives to encourage the adoption of energy- and water-efficient technologies and practices to maximize the potential for efficient water use, reuse, and conservation, energy conservation, and realize the potential corresponding cost-savings for water treatment.

Title II – Grants

  • Authorizes $2.5 billion over five years for grants to address combined and sanitary sewer overflows and recapture and reuse of municipal stormwater under section 221 of the Clean Water Act.
  • Authorizes $250 million in grants over five years for alternative water source projects under section 220 of the Clean Water Act, including projects that reuse wastewater and stormwater to augment the existing sources of water.

 

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