Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) of Birmingham, Ala., has consistently achieved the rating of the number-five water system in the United States...
Believes bill to remove barrier to water infrastructure investment would create small business opportunities and jobs
The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) supports the introduction of the bipartisan Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2010 by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and cosponsors Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). The bill aims to remove state volume caps on private activity bonds (PAB) for water and wastewater projects, freeing up billions of private capital dollars for investment in the nation’s water infrastructure. A similar bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) was passed by the House as part of the Small Business and Infrastructure Tax Act last month.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Government Accountability Office, there is an investment gap of more than $500 billion for necessary infrastructure upgrades over the next 20 years to ensure safe drinking water and wastewater treatment. This bill would create up to 57,000 jobs by converting a modest investment by the federal government into billions of dollars of necessary economic investment into our nation’s aging water and sewage infrastructure. Standard and Poor’s cites approximately $180 billion in new money available for infrastructure investment.
“The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2010 provides a rare opportunity to address two major American issues at once: an aging infrastructure and troubling unemployment numbers,” said Michael Deane, executive director of NAWC. “Senator Menendez and his colleagues have taken a tremendous first step to bringing our nation’s water infrastructure in line with other components of our critical infrastructure, and to meeting our current and future health and safety needs as they relate to the most critical of natural resources.”
Other major infrastructure components already exempt from existing caps include airports, high-speed rail and solid waste disposal. PAB issuance is one of the fastest forms of federal assistance when applied to water and wastewater projects, with only 90 to 120 days needed to complete the process, from approval to sale to getting Americans to work. Many small and local engineering and construction businesses will benefit from project opportunities that will arise from an increased availability of resources, NAWC said.
“The National Association of Water Companies strongly encourages the Senate to consider and pass this important legislation,” Deane said.
Providing opportunities for public water providers to leverage private sector investment in water and wastewater infrastructure, the bill also aims to generate significant tax revenue for states and communities across the country. Each $1 billion invested in water infrastructure yields an increase of $82.4 million in state and local tax revenue.