Dec 12, 2008

Economic Stimulus Should Include Water and Wastewater Funding, WWEMA says

The Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association is urging congressional leaders to dedicate funding for water and wastewater projects as part of the economic stimulus package currently being debated on Capitol Hill.

In a letter sent on Dec. 5, Dawn Kristof Champney, president of the association, asked Congress to act “swiftly and decisively” in setting aside sufficient funding for water and wastewater projects. The U.S. faces shortages of more than $500 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure funding as documented by federal, state and local agencies, she wrote.

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Champney recommended that any federal assistance to water and wastewater projects be channeled through existing State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs for clean and drinking water.

“The SRF programs in place for financing drinking water and wastewater facilities are best positioned to decide which projects can be funded most expediently, based on documented local needs, and offer flexible financing options to help even the most economically-disadvantaged communities,” Champney wrote.

Those programs are a sustainable financial assistance source, she wrote, because the money loaned out will be repaid to the funds for access in perpetuity to help meet future water and wastewater needs.

“Congress has already been presented with $10 billion in ‘ready-to-go’ water and wastewater projects that will immediately create new jobs and ensure a healthier infrastructure base for our Nation’s future economic growth,” Champney wrote.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, there are 2,536 water and wastewater projects, valued at $15.4 billion, that could be started “quickly” in 2009 and completed in 2010.