Jan 27, 2009

Democratic Senators Seek Additional Sewer Funding in Stimulus

Seven senators urging $5 billion CSO grant program as part of economic recovery package

A group of seven Democratic senators sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) urging them to support a $5 billion combined sewer overflow (CSO) grant program to help communities renovate combined sewer overflow systems as part of the economic recovery package, Environment & Energy Daily reported.

The program is needed in addition to extra funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the senators wrote. Under the proposal on the House floor this week, the Clean Water SRF program would receive a $6 billion injection of cash.

"Under the Clean Water Act SRF program, CSO projects compete with all other types of eligible projects for funding," the senators wrote. "The SRF program is already stretched to meet the competing needs for CSO and many other types of eligible wastewater projects."

Investing in CSO projects now would create jobs, ensure long-term economic competitiveness, affirm the United States’ commitment to clean water and help shield ratepayers from rapidly increasing costs, the senators said. Members signing the letter included Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Charles Schumer of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

The funding would help municipalities who are struggling to pay for upgrades and repairs to their wastewater infrastructure in the face of population growth and increased regulatory requirements, according to Ken Kirk, executive director of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. "The federal government should step in and help these communities directly by providing financial assistance to address these challenges," Kirk said in a statement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates communities will need about $50 billion to make combined sewer overflow repairs and renovations.

Read the letter at: http://brown.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CSOGrant1.23.09.pdf