Water Leaders Converge on Capitol Hill to Support Infrastructure Funding

Water Leaders Converge on Capitol Hill to Support Infrastructure Funding

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More than 150 water leaders met with the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill recently to advocate for supporting programs dedicated to investing in water infrastructure and protecting water quality. The water industry experts — from 49 states and Puerto Rico — met legislators at the Water Matters Fly-In hosted by the American Water Works Association March 27-28.

In more than 300 meetings over two days, the delegates informed senators and representatives on key water issues, including addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water, advancing important step forward in addressing America’s trillion-dollar water infrastructure challenge. It reauthorized the innovative new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and provided for time-tested state revolving loan funds (SRFs). However, to reach their potential, these federal loan programs must be fully funded in current and future federal budgets, says AWWA President David Rager. “The vast and largely unseen water and wastewater systems serving our communities are critical to our nation’s public health, safety and economic strength. The members of the American Water Works Association urge Congress to provide robust funding that allows water infrastructure projects to move forward quickly.

“This week is also an opportunity to introduce new members of Congress to AWWA and its mission,” Rager says. “It’s important they know we are the source of objective, science-based information that can help inform their decisions on water quality, management and sustainability.”

Specifically, AWWA delegates are asking Congress to provide fully authorized funding in fiscal year 2020 in the amount of $1.3 billion for the drinking water SRF program, and $50 million for the WIFIA program. The association also asks that Congress begin discussions for reauthorization of the drinking water and wastewater SRF programs and of WIFIA, and maintain funding for conservation programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as authorized in last year’s Farm Bill, particularly the Regional Conservation Partnership Program at $300 million in fiscal year 2020.

AWWA members are also thanking U.S. Congress for emphasizing the protection of drinking water sources in the recently passed farm bill, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. The bill — the key issue in last year’s AWWA Fly-In — provides funds for programs and partnerships that allow agricultural producers and water utilities to collaborate on source water protection. It included virtually every one of AWWA’s key asks.

“Our representatives and senators should be applauded for recognizing the connection between smart farming practices and clean, affordable drinking water,” says Kurt Vause, chair of AWWA’s Water Utility Council. “The commitments they made through the farm bill will serve communities across the United States for years to come, particularly by reducing contaminants in runoff that can harm source water supplies.

Delegates from AWWA are asking Congress to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the resources it needs to study the health effects of PFAS, create analytical methods to quantify levels of PFAS, and explore technologies to efficiently and effectively remove the contaminants.


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