AWWA Urges Congress to Meet Critical Water Security, Infrastructure and Research Funding Needs for America's Water Supply
The American Water Works Association (AWWA), the oldest and largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to safe drinking water in North America, testified before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee to advocate for federal funding on behalf of the nation's water utilities. AWWA made several recommendations relating to funding the security needs of water utilities as well as critical infrastructure costs and clean drinking water research.
Michael Hooker, executive director of the Onondaga County Water Authority in Syracuse, N.Y., spoke on behalf of AWWA before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies. The Onondaga County Water Authority provides drinking water to 340,000 people in 25 towns and 15 villages located in four central New York counties.
"Drinking water suppliers have a long history of security preparedness," Hooker said. "However, the post-September 11 world has added a new understanding of security and has added an unprecedented financial burden on public water systems for immediate steps needed to protect our citizens. AWWA does not believe that the president's budget request for EPA is adequate for EPA to meet the homeland security needs of our nation's public water system infrastructure. We respectfully request the Congress to appropriate significantly increased funds for public water system security efforts that are essential to help provide a safe and secure water supply for our citizens and first responders in the EPA FY 2004 appropriation."
For a copy of the entire testimony, go to www.awwa.org and click on "advocacy."
Water Security Funding
The AWWA proposal recommends close to $460 million to fund the public water system security costs which include
* $450 million for EPA required security vulnerability assessments of utilities serving over 3,300 people,
* $2 million for public water system security training, and
* $2 million for the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Water ISAC) designed to help collect, analyze and communicate critical security warning and threats to the nation?s water utilities.
Water Infrastructure, Research and Safe Water Regulation
AWWA also recommended funding for several other critical water utility funding needs including water infrastructure, research and safe water regulation grants.
? $ 2 billion for the drinking water state revolving fund: In May 2002, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the spending gap for drinking water needs between $70 billion and $362 billion over 20 years. The Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), of which AWWA is a member, estimates that the federal share to meet the needs of replacing aging drinking water pipes should be approximately $28.5 billion over the next five years.
? $7 million for the AWWA Research Foundation (AWWARF) drinking water research: AwwaRF proposes to allocate $5 million of this grant for ongoing research programs that address issues such as the link between disinfection by-products and miscarriages, emerging contaminants such as perchlorate and infrastructure needs. The other $2 million will be allocated to develop the tools to provide early warning systems, addressing distribution system vulnerabilities and examining alternative water supplies. Since FY 1984, when Congress appropriated the first grant for AwwaRF, the Foundation has leveraged an additional $228 million from its subscribers to support research projects across the country. Each dollar appropriated by Congress for AwwaRF produced over $6.00 in drinking water research..
? $100 million for public water system supervision (PWSS) grants to states: $100,000,000 as authorized in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). To comply with the SDWA, Congress intended that EPA develop drinking water regulations and that the states implement and administer the program to ensure compliance with and enforcement of its provisions. Implementation, administration, compliance and enforcement activities are collectively known as "primacy" requirements and federal grants to the states are known as Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) grants. The massive demands on states arising from the SDWA have become increasingly apparent because of the dramatic increase in the number of regulated contaminants over the past few years. As each regulation is added, state resource shortfalls become more acute. Additional regulations are scheduled to be promulgated over the next few years and the SDWA Amendments of 1996 added new responsibilities for the states such as source water assessments, a consumer confidence report program and alternative monitoring programs. The SDWA authorizes a federal share of up to 75 percent, but federal funding has approximated only 35 percent. EPA's budget requests for the last several years for PWSS funding for states has remained essentially static in the face of increasing requirements.