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The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee held the second of two hearings on June 14 exploring investment approaches to bridge the growing clean water funding gap. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Congressional Budget Office, the General Accounting Office and Water Infrastructure Network all agree that the nation faces a national water infrastructure funding gap in the hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 20 years. Simply stated, without a sustainable federal recommitment to clean water funding, we risk losing the 30 years of water quality progress enjoyed under the Clean Water Act.
The Subcommittee’s June 8 hearing focused on testimony from several witnesses on the need for, and economic viability of, a clean water trust fund. Frank Luntz, president of Luntz Research Companies, discussed recent polling data that found overwhelming public support for such a trust fund. Luntz found that such support is far greater than for highways or aviation -- which respectively already enjoy $30 billion/year and $8 billion/year federal trust funds. When talking about the need for federal action on clean water funding, Luntz said, “this issue is not going to go away. It is not simply an environmental issue. It is not simply a health issue. Clean water and wastewater management is very personal to voters because it impacts Americans every single day of the year. This is not a local issue because water has no local boundaries. This is one of those areas -- and there aren’t many -- where Americans demand that Washington take responsibility.”
Ken Rubin, managing partner, PA Consulting Group, testified on behalf of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) regarding the need for, and economic viability of, a clean water trust fund. Rubin stated that “the trust fund generates benefits across society. Cleaner water has been shown to reduce health effects in the public, increase access to water-based recreations, increase property values and development opportunities and increase fisheries and shellfisheries. All of this new economic activity results in job creation, greater worker productivity and increased tax bases at all levels of government.”
NACWA believes these hearings constitute a critical step toward the introduction and passage of legislation to create a clean water trust fund. This would both secure the long-term viability of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), while also adding a significant grant component to help communities fully achieve the lofty goals of the Clean Water Act. NACWA and other key stakeholders are working together to finalize a legislative proposal that would establish such a trust fund.
Visit www.nacwa.org to learn more about the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and its work to secure long-term dedicated funding for clean and safe water.