Advocacy for the Sewer and Water Industry

NASSCO representatives present policy recommendations to congressional leaders.

While COVID has disrupted the way we do business, in some cases it has provided new and unexpected opportunities. NASSCO’s nimble development of virtual training for PACP and ITCP is one example; meeting with congressional leaders to advocate for the protection of our buried assets is another.

For the past three years, since I have served as executive director of NASSCO, a small group of members have gathered in Washington, D.C. during the month of December to advocate for underground infrastructure funding. This past December our annual fly-in looked very different.

During the week of Dec. 7, 2020, under the superb guidance of our government relations consultant, Steve Dye of Nexus Government Relations, NASSCO conducted 30 virtual meetings with congressional leaders from across the country. In many cases, the senators or members of the House of Representatives met with us directly, which is something that I believe was made possible by the virtual format of our discussions.

Steve Dye and I prepared and then joined NASSCO members — constituents who were paired with congressional leaders from their home states — on each of the 30-minute virtual meetings to share the critical need to support funding for underground infrastructure:

 There are an estimated 19,700 wastewater pipe systems in the U.S., comprising approximately 800,000 miles of sewer pipe.

 The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. wastewater and stormwater infrastructure conditions a D+.

 The EPA estimates that at least 23,000 and up to 75,000 sanitary sewer overflow events occur in the United States each year due to structural failure, blockages, and overflows.

 Diminishing of wastewater collections systems impacts public health, the environment and the success of businesses large and small across America.

While the term “infrastructure funding” may conjure the image of roads, bridges and airports, what many people — even our government leaders — do not understand is that without a solid underground infrastructure, that beautiful new road may just collapse, wasting significant taxpayer dollars.

NASSCO’s position is very clear, and during our virtual fly-in we were able to share three very specific policy recommendations and requests:

1. Increase federal funding and financing for wastewater and stormwater collections infrastructure

2. Strengthen asset management requirements and funding

3. Maintain regulatory compliance enforcement

While NASSCO’s first policy recommendation, to increase funding, is the primary request, we believe it is important to ensure these funds are spent appropriately through proper asset management requirements and funding, especially for those communities that lack financial or technical resources. Additionally, NASSCO recommends full funding annually to federal programs and offices that directly and indirectly ensure that the Clean Water Act and National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits remain in full regulatory compliance.

All virtual meetings with congressional leaders last December resulted in positive results, with each of them understanding the need, appreciating the policy recommendations, and promising to utilize NASSCO resources to better understand the issues and use us, and our members, as valued resources.

As we round the corner into the second quarter of 2021, it is important that we continue to communicate with Capitol Hill on the ever-changing funding requirements and opportunities, and with virtual platforms our meetings no longer need to occur just once each year. Through NASSCO’s Sewer System Heroes campaign, which is open to members and nonmembers, you can quickly and easily communicate with your elected officials via an automated email that is updated frequently to address the shifting climate in infrastructure funding.

To learn more about specific issues affecting our entire industry, to download NASSCO’s full policy recommendation document, and to watch our overview video, please visit 


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