The National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) applauds Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) for introducing the Clean Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2003 (S 170), which would authorize $15 billion over five years for the Environmental Protection Agencys Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program.
The legislation would authorize $3 billion annually for the Clean Water SRF, which assists states in providing low-cost financing to communities for the construction, repair, and rehabilitation of wastewater collection and treatment facilities. The program also supports brownfields restoration, as well as storm water, wetlands, estuary, and non-point-source runoff improvements.
Leading the fight for clean water infrastructure funding is nothing new for Sen. Voinovich. He authored similar legislation in the 106th and 107th Congresses. NUCA CEO Bill Hillman praises the senators demonstrated commitment to SRF reauthorization. "Sen. Voinovichs steadfast dedication to Americas environmental infrastructure is second to none," Hillman said. "This vital program needs substantial new funding now, and Sen. "Clean Water" keeps the issue front and center where it belongs."
The Clean Water SRF program has been without federal authorization since 1994. Fortunately, congressional appropriators have provided $1.35 billion annually for the SRF for some time, but experts agree this level is no longer adequate to meet our nations basic requirements. The Environmental Protection Agency indicated last year that Americas clean water and safe drinking water infrastructure needs could exceed an eye-popping $500 billion by 2019.
"The federal government knows that nationwide funding needs are in the hundreds of billions, and the situation grows more serious by the day," said NUCA President Tom Henkels. "NUCA members see the disastrous results of failed sewer systems in their everyday work, which is frustrating because we stand ready to deliver the systems America needs."
The Clean Water SRF is widely known as a fiscally sound, effective funding mechanism that creates scores of jobs while refurbishing critical infrastructure. Up to 55,000 jobs are created with every $1 billion of capital investment by the federal government. "As the government looks for ways to stimulate the economy, they should consider the thousands of people put to work by SRF-funded jobs," Henkels added.
Legislation progressed through House and Senate committees in the 107th Congress, but neither bill saw floor action because of a few contentious and polarizing issues, including application of the federal Davis-Bacon Act and the state allotment formula. "Congress has to keep its eye on the prize and work through the peripheral issues that have hampered legislative action in the past," Hillman said. "Congress should follow Sen. Voinovichs lead, negotiate a bipartisan solution, and get a strong funding bill to the Presidents desk."