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The National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) is in full support of the Water Quality Financing Act of 2003 (HR 1560), which would authorize $20 billion for the Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) State Revolving Fund (SRF) over the next five years. NUCA applauds House Water Resources Subcommittee Chairman John "Jimmy" Duncan (R-Tenn.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who introduced this legislation.
Last year, EPAs Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis reported that there will be a $534 billion gap between current spending and projected needs for water and wastewater infrastructure if federal funding is not increased. "As a nation, we are not investing enough in our wastewater treatment infrastructure to ensure that we will continue to keep our waters clean," Chairman Young said.
The legislation would take significant steps toward closing the spending gap by increasing the federal commitment to EPAs Clean Water SRF program. The SRF provides a perpetual source of funding to build and improve wastewater treatment plants; control agricultural, rural, and urban runoff; improve estuaries; control wet weather flows; and restore brownfield sites.
"The SRF program is an efficient, fiscally sound partnership that enhances public health, creates thousands of jobs, and improves the overall quality of life for all Americans," said Bill Hillman, NUCAs chief executive officer. "Passage of this bill would be a one-two punch in stimulating the economy while cleaning up the environment."
The SRF has a remarkable track record. Since its inception in 1987, approximately $20 billion in federal SRF capitalization grants have been leveraged into more than $38 billion in revolving loans to local communities.
According to NUCA President Mark Accetturo, NUCA will take a lead role in encouraging action on HR 1560. "NUCA is launching an aggressive campaign to advance this legislation through the T&I Committee and onto the House floor for a long-overdue vote," said Accetturo. "Every year we get a little bit closer, and were not going to stop until the deal is done."
SRF reauthorization legislation passed the House committee in the 107th Congress, but the bill never saw floor action because of debate over controversial labor issues. "Congress must work to resolve these contentious but peripheral issues to get this bill passed," Accetturo said. "These issues are secondary in importance when compared to this countrys wastewater infrastructure needs."