WEF's Interest in U.S. Legislative Priorities
Under the leadership of the Legislative Subcommittee of WEF’s Government Affairs Committee, WEF tracks, reviews and actively comments on legislation impacting clean water issues. WEF works closely with its membership to educate Congress on clean water issues impacting their districts and States, and disseminates information on Congressional activities to WEF membership via meetings, webcasts and emails. WEF also collaborates with other organizations to provide support, or comment on pending legislation affecting the clean water community.
This Week In Washington
This Week in Washington is a weekly publication of the Water Environment Federation’s Government Affairs department. It provides updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments that affect the water and wastewater communities. To subscribe, please send an email to email@example.com. To read the latest issue, click here.
WEF Legislative Activities
True LEADership Act Introduced in Senate
On April 20, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and twenty-six original co-sponsors introduced the True, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016 or True LEADership Act (S.2821).
The bill would provide additional federal funding for water infrastructure, tax credits for homeowners to remove lead, and grants to schools to help children survive the effects of lead poisoning.
Reforms in the True LEADership Act include:
- Increasing investments in our water infrastructure, particularly through a grant program specifically designed for projects that reduce lead in tap water
- Establishing a mandatory, nationwide requirement for states to report elevated levels of lead in children
- Establishing mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems
- Reforms to HUD authorities and a new tax credit for homeowners to remove lead
- A new grant program for schools to aid children with the effects of lead poisoning
- Accelerates development of new water technologies
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Minority Leader Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said she will look for opportunities to advance the bill, including on the Water Resources Development Act, which the committee is looking to mark up next week.
Click here to read Sen. Cardin's press release on the bill.
House Bill Introduced to Reauthorize Clean Water SRF
Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure introduced the Water Quality and Job Creation Act of 2016 (H.R. 4954) The bill amends the Clean Water Act to provide for additional funding for water infrastructure, including the State Revolving Fund (SRF).
Specifically, the bill:
- Authorizes $20 billion over five years in wastewater infrastructure through SRFs and other efforts to improve water quality.
- Authorizes $1.5 billion over five years for grants or State water pollution control agencies to implement State water pollution control programs.
- Authorizes $600 million over five years for Clean Water programs for watershed-based or system-wide efforts to address wet weather discharges, to promote stormwater best management practices, to undertake integrated water resource management, and to increase the resiliency of treatment works to natural or man-made disasters.
- Authorizes technical assistance to rural, small, and tribal communities to assist them in gaining access to financing wastewater infrastructure.
- Includes economic incentives to encourage the adoption of energy- and water-efficient technologies and practices to maximize the potential for efficient water use, reuse, and conservation, and energy conservation, and realize the potential corresponding cost-savings for water treatment.
- Authorizes $2.5 billion in grants over five years for grants to address combined and sanitary sewer overflows and recapture and reuse of municipal stormwater under section 221 of the Clean Water Act. Grants would be provided to the state to award to local agencies.
- Authorizes $75 million annually ($250 million in grants over five years) for alternative water source projects under Section 220 of the Clean Water Act, including projects that reuse wastewater and stormwater to augment the existing sources of water.
EPW Chair and Ranking Member Criticize Budget Cuts in Drinking Water and Clean Water SRFs
On April 19, during an EPA budget proposal hearing, EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, that the agency's “activist” agenda on climate change jeopardizes its other important work.
“The President's budget would cut $414 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund which helps these very same states and local communities pay for improvements to sewer and waste water treatment systems,” Inhofe said. “As we have seen from the Gold King Mine blowout and the contaminated drinking water in Flint, EPA has at times been distracted from fulfilling its core missions due to the Obama Administration's previous single-minded focus on remaking EPA into an agency that regulates climate change and the energy sector.”
The White House proposed $8.27 billion for the EPA's fiscal year 2017 funding.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the committee's Ranking Member and often a supporter of EPA policies, criticized cuts in the Obama administration's proposal for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
“Our nation's water infrastructure needs far outstrip the funding available, and the proposed $257 million cut to the State Revolving Funds will make this funding gap grow,” Boxer said. The EPA proposal boosts the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund by roughly $157 million. (Bloomberg BNA)
to watch a recording of the hearing and read testimony.
Senate to Consider $37.5 Billion Energy and Water Bill
Originally, Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) offered an amendment that would block the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with its Waters of the US (WOTUS) regulation, but he eventually withdrew it. (Bloomberg BNA)
Also this week, on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy, Water Development and Related Agencies passed their $37.4 billion version of the bill, which is scheduled to go before the full Committee next Tuesday. For a summary, click here.
The House bill includes riders that would block the Clean Water Rule and "restricts the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches," according to the summary.
WRDA Details Being Negotiated
Recently, Chairman Inhofe (R-OK) spoke about his desire to move the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation
out of Committee before the next recess. This week, other Members including EPW Committee Member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also spoke of progress being made on the bill - and the likelihood of it being passed by the full Senate before the August recess. WRDA details are being negotiated at this time.
New WEF Study on Infrastructure Spending is the Focus of Senate Hearing
WEF was invited to testify at a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing entitled "The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable" today in the U.S. Senate. The goal of this hearing was to examine the federal role in water and wastewater infrastructure. A primary purpose of the hearing was to receive the results of an analysis that WEF and the WateReuse Association conducted at the request of the Senate EPW Committee. The analysis shows the full economic benefits to the economy, job creation and federal tax revenues from federal funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.
Rudolph Chow, P.E., Director of the Department of Public Works in Baltimore, represented WEF, the City of Baltimore and the WateReuse Association. Mr. Chow is a proponent of above-ground and underground infrastructure renewal and has spent his career in the water industry developing and implementing new and innovative programs.
Mr. Chow’s testimony focused on three significant issues affecting water and wastewater infrastructure: affordability, federal funding of infrastructure, and economic benefits of SRF spending. He focused on the results of the economic analysis which shows the impact of SRF spending in four sample states, including taxes returned to the federal government, jobs created and other benefits to the state and national economies.
Mr. Chow explained how the results of this analysis show that SRF spending generates Federal tax revenues. Specifically:
- Total (state and federal) annual SRF spending in these 4 states has averaged $1.46 billion. This generates $234 million of Federal tax revenues. Therefore, every million of SRF spending is estimated to generate $160,000 in Federal taxes from those states. This does not include tax revenues generated by indirect spending by firms in other states (other than CA, OH, MD and OK).
- When compared only to the federal portion of SRF spending, which accounts for 23% of total spending, every $1 million of federal spending generates $695,000 in Federal taxes from those states.
However, not only does SRF spending increase Federal revenues, it generates output in the state economies, as well. Every $1 million of SRF spending results in $2.25 million in output for the states’ economies, on average.
Complete results of this analysis will be added to the Committee Report and available for review within the next several weeks.
For more information, please contact WEF Legislative Director, Steve Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org, or WateReuse’s Legislative Director, Ian Wolf, at email@example.com.
WEF Invited to Testify at EPA Hearing
Rudolph Chow, P.E., Director of the Department of Public Works in Baltimore, will represent WEF. As his official biography states, Mr. Chow is a proponent of above-ground and underground infrastructure renewal and has spent his career in the water industry developing and implementing new and innovative programs.
The US Conference of Mayors, AWWA, NAWC, Rural Water, and NRDC will also be represented at the hearing.
The hearing will be at 10 AM EST in Dirksen 406. You will be able to watch the hearing live.
Flint's Potential Impact on Lead and Copper Revision Rule
According to Bloomberg BNA, on Monday, March 21, Joel Beauvais, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, said the EPA will use lessons from the lead-tainted drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., in drafting its revisions
to the lead and copper rule
in 2017, particularly on such issues as how to determine an appropriate sampling regime.
Peter Grevatt, the Director of the EPA's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, said there also will be movement on an unregulated contaminant monitoring rule, a strontium determination and actions related to algal blooms.
Beauvais' comments are some of the most specific yet by an EPA official on how the crisis in Flint, where 100,000 people were exposed to high lead levels in their water, could affect national standards. Grevatt's comments offer a glimpse of the rest of the drinking water agenda in a year in which activity has been largely dominated by Flint.
Army Corps of Engineers Pushed on Water System Financing
The panel included Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary to the Army Corps of Engineers and Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers. Click here to read their statements.
According to Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), they are back on schedule to pass a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) every two years, which “allows Congress to help meet the demands for navigation, flood control and ecosystem restoration projects around the country.”
During the hearing, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Ranking Member, pushed the Corps to make progress on a new program of innovative financing for water infrastructure projects.
The Corps' budget request for fiscal year 2017 includes nothing for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), legislation included as a program within the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. WIFIA was designed as a five-year pilot of loans and loan guarantees for Corps water resources infrastructure projects and EPA approved water and wastewater projects.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been working to set up its part of the WIFIA program and included $20 million for it in its FY 2017 budget request.
New Congressional Caucus for Municipal Bonds
In early March, Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) formed a new congressional caucus to advocate for preserving tax-exempt municipal bonds. The Municipal Finance Caucus will unite Members of Congress to fight to protect tax-exempt municipal bonds from efforts to alter them, such as a change requested in President Obama’s FY17 budget which would reduce the deductibility levels of tax-exempt bonds for upper income earners. Upper income earners purchase nearly 50% of all tax-exempt municipal bonds, which accounted for over $50 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure financing in 2010.
Tax-exempt municipal bonds fund more than 90% of all water and wastewater infrastructure financing in the United States, so efforts to alter the effectiveness of them have been met with strong resistance from public and private organizations. WEF has supported these efforts and is a member of a coalition of municipal and financial organizations united to fight against changes to tax-exempt municipal bonds. The new Municipal Finance Caucus will unify a block of Members of Congress to also oppose any changes, such as those proposed in the President’s budget or in future tax reform legislation.
WEF and Other Water Sector Organizations Join in Letter to Congress
This week WEF and nine other water and municipal associations sent a joint letter to Congress requesting $2 billion in FY17 for both the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs. That amount matches the amount also being requested in a letter being circulated among Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Clean Water SRF received $1.39 billion in FY16, and the President has only requested $979 million in FY17, which would be a $414 million cut. WEF has joined with the other organizations to make a strong push for increasing the funding for SRF programs. Recent Clean Water and Drinking Water Needs Surveys from the U.S. EPA estimate the combined total needed for water infrastructure investments over the next 20 years to be $655 billion.
The letter also requests Congress to fully fund the WIFIA program at the authorized level of $35 million in FY17, which conservatively would equal approximately $2 billion in water infrastructure project investments. Additionally, the letter calls on Congress to provide $23.365 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program, which is a grant program for water reuse projects in Western states. Finally, the letter asks for $6.5 million to support the EPA’s Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach (Integrated Planning) to help communities better manage regulatory compliance.
House Committee Approves Great Lakes Restoration Bill
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015 (H.R. 223), a bill reauthorizing $1.5 billion over five years to restore the Great Lakes was adopted March 2 on a voice vote by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Sponsored by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and backed by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), H.R. 223 now heads to the House floor. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an identical bill (S. 1024) in the Senate, which has been placed on the legislative calendar. The initiative would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the Great Lakes Restoration Task Force to prioritize and carry out projects that focus on the following areas: remediation of toxic substances and areas of concern; prevention and control of invasive species and their impacts; the protection and restoration of near-shore health and the prevention and mitigation of nonpoint source pollution; and habitat and wildlife protection and restoration.
Infrastructure and Innovation Funding in the FY 2017 Federal Budget Proposal
On Tuesday, Feb.
9th, President Obama released his proposal for the FY 2017 federal
budget. The budget proposal included changes in funding for water
infrastructure and increased funding for water R&D.
Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF
The President is
requesting only $979M for the CW SRF in FY17, which was appropriated $1.35B in
FY16. The DW SRF received an
increased request amount of $1.02B for FY17, which was appropriated $863M for
FY16. The combined total reduction in proposed SRF funding is -$257M below
the FY16 appropriated amount. There is speculation that the increase in the DW
SRF may be in reaction to the Flint, MI, crisis, but the budget proposal makes
minimum mention of Flint.
proposal also includes $20M for WIFIA loans, $5M of which is for administration
costs. The $15M for WIFIA would
conservatively equal at least $375M in new infrastructure funding (assuming a
very conservative 25:1 leveraging ratio for the $15M), but the EPA has much
higher expectations for the program and estimates “potential loan capacity of
nearly $1 billion to eligible entities for infrastructure projects with the
initial loans taking place in FY 2017.”
Delta from FY16
Enacted to FY17 Request
Clean Water SRF
Drinking Water SRF
Water R&D and
budget proposal also announces approximately $300 in new funding to support the
Administration’s water innovation strategy.
The strategy focuses on water sustainability and reducing the price and
energy costs of new water supply technology to address resiliency, climate
change and population growth.
budget proposal will direct:
million for the federal WaterSMART program, which promotes water
conservation initiatives and technologies.
million of new funding for the US Geological Service to provide near real-time
assessment of water use during drought
million to support R&D at the Bureau of Reclamation. These funds include
$8.5 million for the water technology solutions challenge program, a technology
challenge prize focused on next-generation water-treatment technologies; $5.8
million for desalination and water purification, and $2 million to continue the
Open Water Data, which aims to centralize national water data collected by
various agencies and make it more accessible.
million in new funding for the Department of Energy to launch a new
Energy-Water Desalination Hub
DOE would also invest nearly $20 million in complementary R&D on
desalination technologies relevant to fossil, concentrated solar power, and
million in additional funding for US Department of Agriculture research to
support agricultural production and practices that conserve water
million for the National Science Foundation for water research, focusing on
technologies that increase the US water supply, drinking water quality, and
water for use in agriculture and industry processes or cooling.
Other Programs and Priorities
Green Infrastructure & Stormwater: The budget proposal does not
specifically identify significant new funding for GI and SW, but it does
highlight the EPA’s intentions to support more GI and better SW management to
address CWA goals. The budget proposal reemphasizes the authority to set aside
“20 percent of the Clean Water SRF capitalization grants, subject to project
availability, to green infrastructure and innovative projects including those
to manage stormwater, which helps communities improve water quality while
creating green space, mitigating flooding, and enhancing air quality.”
USGS National Water Quality Assessment
Program: The program
will receive an increase of $1,881,000 to a total of $63,881,000. The budget proposal directs the increased funding
to go towards long-term groundwater and surface water quality monitoring
WEF was aware in advance of these
changes to the funding levels of the SRF programs and have already begun
efforts in Congress to ensure full funding for both SRF programs in the final budget. WEF is working closely with a coalition of
water and municipal associations to have a coordinated message and action plan,
as well as reaching out to WEF membership to build grassroots advocacy before
Congress in opposition to cuts to the CW SRF.
Final FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
In mid-December, the U.S. Congress reached a final agreement for the
fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget for the federal government, the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2016. The bill provides $1.067 trillion in base funding,
which includes $73.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, $7.1 billion
in disaster aid, $1.5 billion for program integrity, and $700 million in
emergency funding. Read the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 at https://rules.house.gov/bill/114/hr-2029-sa.
Funding to all federal agencies is included in the bill, and it retains
or increases the funding amounts for the agencies from FY 2015. The bill holds
the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) at the FY 2015 enacted level of $8.139
billion. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is funded at $1.394 billion and
the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is funded at $863 million, restoring
severe cuts proposed in 2015 in the draft House and Senate committee bills. The
bill did not include funding for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation
Act (WIFIA) loans and loan guarantees, but it did include language directing
EPA to continue to use administrative monies to establish the program. The bill was free of many of the policy riders that had been hotly
debated in Congress, including any restrictions on EPA in proceeding with the
implementation of the Clean Water Rule and the Clean Power Rule.
In 2016, WEF will be advocating before Congress and the Administration
for full funding for the SRF programs, as well as funding for the WIFIA program
to provide low interest loans for infrastructure projects.
Rider That Banned CSO and Wet Weather
Also, in the FY16 Omnibus bill, a major effort to strip an unfunded
mandate was successful. The Senate version of the appropriations bill that
funds EPA included a rider that would have forbidden wet weather bypassing and
combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the Great Lakes watershed. The compromise
language in the final bill will require some additional reporting for CSO
events only, but it makes no changes to the Clean Water Act requirements or
Senate's FY16 appropriations bill contained a policy rider (Sec. 428 of S. 1645) requiring all combined sewer
overflows (CSO) in the Great Lakes watershed to be eliminated, including
overflows discharged in compliance with a CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) or
consent decrees. The rider would have also required water resource recovery
facilities (WRRFs) to eliminate discharges of blended effluent that otherwise
meet standards established in a WRRF's National Pollution Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) permit during peak wet weather events.
recently completed survey of Great Lakes WRRFs estimated the cost-of-compliance
to the policy rider exceeded $72 billion in the region. A coalition of cities,
counties, and associations is aggressively lobbying Congress in opposition to
this policy rider because it has the potential to be extremely costly,
requiring massive infrastructure expansion, ratepayer increases, and reopening
of consent decrees and/or LTCPs. More than 45 letters were sent to Congress
from public agencies and organizations opposed to the policy rider, including WEF;
the Water Environment Associations of Indiana, Michigan, New England, New York,
and Ohio; and WEF members at agencies throughout the Great Lakes region.
Fix and Better Highway Stormwater Management
The highway reauthorization bill, known as
American Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) that was enacted
into law in December, included a fix to the WIFIA program that WEF helped
create and a stormwater management provision that WEF helped draft.
removed a restriction on the use of tax-exempt financing on WIFIA-financed
projects. WEF and other water associations have been advocating for the
provision since the program was enacted in 2014. The WIFIA program required that WIFIA can finance only
up to 49% of a total project cost, and the remaining 51% could not come from a tax-exempt source, such as tax-exempt
municipal bonds or private activity bonds. This was limited by Congress in 2014
to keep the cost of creating WIFIA budgets neutral, with the intent of fixing
it later. The restriction on tax-exempt financing was removed by the provision
in the FAST Act that WEF and other water associations strongly advocated.
Also included in
the FAST Act was a stormwater management provision that WEF helped draft that
directs metropolitan, nonmetropolitan, and statewide transportation planning
agencies to “improve the resiliency and reliability of the transportation
system and reduce or mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation,”
among the list of items to be included when agencies are planning surface
transportation projects that use federal funding.
Rep. Donna Edwards
(D-Md.), who was a member of the conference committee negotiating the final
bill, included the provision. Language similar to the provision was originally
developed by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) with WEF staff assistance and
was introduced as the Highway Stormwater Management Act as
stand-alone legislation in 2014 and 2015 (S. 518). On behalf of WEF, Dr. Dan
Medina of Atkins Global (Epsom, U.K.) and Jim Gibson of Sanitation District #1
in Fort Wright, Ky., participated in a
hearing in May 2014 before the Senate Water & Wildlife Subcommittee chaired by
Sen. Cardin. During the hearing, the WEF members testified on the importance of
better stormwater runoff management during the surface transportation planning
process. Sen. Cardin introduced his legislation shortly after the hearing.
The provision that
Rep. Edwards included in the bill is a significant step toward better
stormwater management included early in the planning process of surface
transportation bills. Currently, planning agencies that use federal dollars for
projects are given eight criteria to consider during the planning process, such
as increased safety, economic growth, and intermodal connectivity. The Edwards
provision amends U.S. Code 23, Section 134(h)(1) and 135(D)(1), and will urge
planning agencies to “reduce and mitigate stormwater impacts of surface
transportation.” Planning agencies are not required to include these criteria
in projects, but projects that meet more criteria will score higher.
In 2016, WEF will be working closely with EPA to
help complete the formation of the WIFIA program and establish another
federally backed source of low-interest financing. WEF will also be working
with the Federal Highway Administration to incorporate the stormwater
management provisions into the project planning process so that stormwater
management costs are built into the federally funded highway projects and are not
left to local agencies to address after a project is completed.
Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF Reauthorization Legislation Introduced in the Senate
In mid-February, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced new legislation (S. 2532) to reauthorize and increase the funding levels for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRFs). Together, these funds serve as the primary source of federal funding for all states to maintain, repair and replace their aging water infrastructure systems.
Cardin’s bill starts by immediately returning the SRFs to 2009 funding levels that included boosts from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act – more than tripling the authorizations for both SRFs that have seen cuts in recent years. With an update to FY16 authorizations, this new legislation would provide immediate authorization for additional resources that would assist communities nationwide with infrastructure funding challenges.
Obama Vetoes Congressional Resolution to Block Water Rule
In January 2016, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have nullified the administration's rule defining the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
The rule, written jointly by the Environmental Protection agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would have been negated by a joint resolution of Congress passed under authority of the Congressional Review Act. The resolution (S.J. Res. 22) was passed by the Senate in November and the House last week.
The Senate attempted, but failed, to override this veto. The veto was fully anticipated and is expected to stand, given that neither house of Congress in approving the resolution mustered the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override.
In his veto message, Obama said, “The rule, which is a product of extensive public involvement and years of work, is critical to our efforts to protect the nation's waters and keep them clean; is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders; and is consistent with decisions of the United States Supreme Court.”
He added, “Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it.”
The Clean Water Rule, also widely referred to as the “waters of the U.S.” rule, or WOTUS, is the subject of litigation in many courts, leaving its fate in limbo. It has been put on hold by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pending a decision on what court jurisdictions are appropriate for lawsuits against the rule and will remain a focus of litigation in federal courts.
WEF, Others Urge Funding for WIFIA, SRF, and No Changes to Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds
In early November 2014, WEF and other leading water organizations sent letters to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan and the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, requesting that Congress and the Administration provide full funding to the newly authorized Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and include it in EPA’s FY15 and FY16 budgets. Along with American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), WEF also requested that the funding level for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving funds (SRFS) be maintained and no changes be made to the tax benefits of tax-exempt municipal bonds. WIFIA FY15 Funding Letter to Senate and FY16 Funding Letter to OMB.
WEF, AWWA and AMWA Raise Concerns on Possible Buy American Provisions for State SRFs
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies is considering adding Buy American provisions for state revolving funds (SRF) to the FY2013 EPA appropriations. These provisions would be similar to those included in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or Stimulus Bill, in 2009.
Given potential impacts on State Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and WEF sent a June 19 joint letter to the House Subcommittee urging careful consideration of the ramifications on local utilities including delays in initiating much-needed water infrastructure projects and related impacts on job creation. WEF, AWWA and AMWA recommended an independent review before Congress proceeds with such provisions. The group also suggested that a more reasonable approach to promoting American manufacturing may be through incentives, such as loan discounts, for utilities that utilize U.S. manufactured goods.
WEF, Other Water Leaders Urge Passage of New Water Infrastructure Financing Legislation (February 28, 2012)
WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger joined with other industry leaders February 28 on Capitol Hill to urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass new legislation that would fund water infrastructure needs. Eger’s testimony, presented to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, highlighted the financial challenges facing water facilities around the country and the importance of providing support for these essential services. During the first of a two-part hearing titled, Review of Innovative Financing Approaches for Community Water Infrastructure Projects, Eger and other water industry leaders helped educate the Subcommittee about the critical need for water infrastructure funding and potential financing tools to help local communities pay for the rising costs of providing clean and safe water.
Specifically, WEF and the American Water Works Association voiced support for draft legislation to create the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA), a funding mechanism modeled after the highly successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. WIFIA would assist local governments with water infrastructure needs and leverage available federal dollars through low-interest funding that complements the already established State Revolving Fund. The second of the two-part hearing is expected sometime in March.
WEF Commends Introduction of Water Quality Protection & Job Creation Act (Updated October 12, 2011)
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has submitted a letter of support to Congressmen Nick Rahall (D-WV), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Tim Bishop (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources & the Environment, for the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2011, H.R. 3145—a new bill that was introduced yesterday on Capitol Hill.
The new legislation proposes a Federal investment of $13.8 billion in wastewater infrastructure over five years through the renewal of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). This much needed funding would also help create thousands of new domestic jobs in the engineering, construction and clean water sectors while providing financial assistance for communities to address wet weather overflows and create incentives for innovation including green infrastructure, energy efficiency and watershed approaches.
Click here to read the official press release from the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.
WEF provides testimony for Congressional hearings on various clean water legislative issues though the direct involvement of the water professionals that make up the WEF membership.
WEF Vice-President Jeanette Brown provides Congressional testimony on Energy Efficiency and Energy Independence for Sustainable Wastewater Treatment (Updated April, 2009)
Review her blog on the issue and read the press release.
2012 WEF/AWWA Water Matters Fly-In (March 7-8, 2012)
Water leaders from WEF and AWWA gathered in Arlington, Virginia, on March 7 at the AWWA/WEF Water Matters! Fly In event to show their support for draft legislation that would create a federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA). Following a morning briefing on WIFIA and the comments from Rep. Gibbs, utility representatives visited Capitol Hill for more than 400 meetings with their national legislators and staff. The draft legislation would lower the cost of large water projects for consumers at a time when infrastructure is aging and in need of replacement. “The time for new thinking is now,” said AWWA President Jerry Stevens, who is also general manager for West Des Moines (Iowa) Water Works. “The WIFIA proposal strikes just the right balance between federal assistance and local responsibility.” “If we are going to continue to provide essential services and make progress in water quality, we need to re-imagine the way we provide local water services,” said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. “We need to encourage innovation—innovative technologies, innovative management approaches, and innovative financing.”
From time to time WEF co-sponsors briefings with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment Program for congressional staff and other interested organizations on clean water topics. Below is information about recent and upcoming Congressional Briefings.
WEF Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Green Infrastructure
October 25, 2011
Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 215
WEF and American Rivers (AR), in association with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), co-sponsored a congressional briefing, “Reducing Costs and Spurring Job Growth: Using Green Infrastructure Practices to Protect and Restore Clean Water for Communities” on October 25 at the U.S Capitol Visitor Center. The briefing highlighted the multiple economic benefits of green infrastructure practices as an integral component of stormwater management to protect clean water, and was indeed a great success. Attendees included congressional staffers, water sector professionals, and environmental policy specialists.
The event was moderated by WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. Speakers included Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, Manager of Watershed Programs, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Chair, NACWA Stormwater Management Committee; Theodore E. Scott, Executive Vice President and Founder, Stormwater Maintenance, LLC., and Tricia Martin, Principal, WE Design, NY Chapter President, American Society of Landscape Architects. The briefing provided information on the problem of stormwater and its management using the traditional approach, the growing paradigm shift towards green infrastructure (from the small business perspective) and its economic benefits, in addition to showcasing some successful case studies. Presentation Slides PDF Slides
October 28, 2011
Room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building
WEF, along with the Notheast Midwest Institute, hosted a briefing this week on Capitol Hill to inform Congressional staffers and other interested parties on an updated web-based decision support system developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The event, which took place on Friday, October 28, was moderated by WEF Government Affairs Vice-Chair, Alan Vicory, who is the executive director for the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission.
The USGS presented updates of the SPAtially Referenced Regressions On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) watershed modeling tool with other presentations from by state officials from Minnesota and Tennessee on how their respective state programs utilize this tool. The USGS described the ability of the SPARROW platform to provide online snapshots in time of nutrient loads, yields and sources for areas covered by the tool, which includes all areas of the contiguous 48-state with the exception of California and portions of the Southwest region. A real-time demonstration was also provided by USGS to illustrate the modeling and forecasting ability of the tool. The online tool can be accessed at this link.
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Congressional Briefings Archive
Legislative News Updates
House Holds Hydraulic Fracturing Hearing (Updated Nov 18, 2011)
The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), held a hearing on November 16 to consider potential new regulations by EPA on the hydraulic fracturing of shale beds to produce natural gas. Read more >>
Congressional Supercommittee Struggles to Meet November 23 deadline; Continuing Resolution Passed (Updated Nov 18, 2011)
The congressional bipartisan supercommittee continues to struggle with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by a deadline. Read more >>
House T&I Committee Debating Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011 (Updated Nov 11, 2011)
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will resume debate next week on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2838), a bill that would require both EPA and Coast Guard to establish a national technology-based standard to treat ballast water discharges from commercial ships that preempts individual state standards. Read more >>
Senate Committee Adopts Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011 (Updated Nov 4, 2011)
On November 2, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011 (S. 1701). Read more >>
WEF Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Green Infrastructure (Updated Oct 28, 2011)
WEF and American Rivers (AR), in association with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), co-sponsored a congressional briefing, “Reducing Costs and Spurring Job Growth: Using Green Infrastructure Practices to Protect and Restore Clean Water for Communities” on October 25 at the U.S Capitol Visitor Center. Read more >>
WEF Hosts Congressional Briefing on Updated USGS Nutrient Tool (Updated Oct 28, 2011)
WEF, along with the Notheast Midwest Institute, hosted a briefing this week on Capitol Hill to inform Congressional staffers and other interested parties on an updated web-based decision support system developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. Read more >>
Congressional Deficit Reduction Supercommittee Urged to Support Increased Water Funding (Updated Oct 14, 2011)
A number of letters submitted from House Democrats are urging the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to increase EPA funding for drinking water and wastewater state revolving funds (SRFs). Read more >>
House Committee Introduces Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011 (Updated Oct 14, 2011)
(H.R. 2840), the Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011, was approved by voice vote on October 13 by the House by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), amends the Clean Water Act to set a single nationwide performance standard, which conforms to the standard set by the International Maritime Organization, for the treatment of vessel ballast water. Read more >>
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Nutrient Reduction Approaches (Updated Oct 7, 2011)
A hearing was convened by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife on October 4 - Nutrient Pollution: An Overview of Nutrient Reduction Approaches - to document nutrient pollution as a national threat and discuss the causes and impacts of nutrient pollution, in addition to the various mitigation approaches. Read more >>
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