September 22, 2009

CARDIN CALLS FOR GREATER INVESTMENT IN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE FOLLOWING MAJOR WATER MAIN BREAK IN DUNDALK

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, speaking today from the floor of the U.S. Senate, called on his colleagues to support greater investment in our nation's water infrastructure. Senator Cardin's comments come just days after a major water main broke in Dundalk, MD, causing major flooding throughout the community.

 

"We in Maryland have just witnessed one more dramatic reminder that the water infrastructure in this country is in dire straits and is in desperate need of new attention and greater investment. This past Friday afternoon, water surged for hours from a broken 6-foot-wide water main in Dundalk, Maryland.   The raging water washed out a main road in the area. It turned streets into rivers. It flooded homes and businesses.   Dozens were stranded inside and outside their homes. While this incident was among some of the most dramatic, there have been hundreds of water main breaks, large and small, across Maryland over the last year alone.  

 

"Maryland is not unique in facing a crisis when it comes to water infrastructure.   Our water infrastructure is reaching a tipping point in many places, having long outlived its fifty year life span. Our problems are compounded by growing populations and more frequent cycles of floods and droughts affecting communities across the country.

 

"The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an additional $6 billion per year will be needed to meet the nation's wastewater infrastructure needs and $5 billion per year will be needed for drinking water needs. That is why I have introduced, along with Senators Boxer, Inhofe and Crapo, S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009.   This bill truly represents a watershed moment in the legislative history of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

 

"First and foremost, this bill makes it possible for us to continue considerable investment in the nation's aging infrastructure by significantly increasing the authorizations for clean water and drinking water.   Over the next 5 years, the bill provides $20 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and nearly $15 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).  

 

"The Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009 goes further to develop new tools to address some of our pressing and growing water infrastructure needs.   It allows new and important types of projects to qualify for funding, including efforts to secure our wastewater and drinking water facilities and green infrastructure that is often more effective and less expensive than traditional infrastructure. It also provides additional flexibility in the Clean Water SRF to help poor communities by providing loan forgiveness and improved financing.   The legislation creates a nearly $2 billion grant program to make infrastructure upgrades that will reduce the number of Combined and Sanitary Sewer Overflows.

 

"There is a new $60 million per year nation-wide grant program to provide funding to states and municipalities to reduce lead in drinking water.   The bill also contains a new $50 million nation-wide grant program to address water quality issues associated with agriculture. The bill gives new incentives to water utilities to plan for the future, so that we don't face another crisis of failing infrastructure 20, 50 or 75 years down the road.

 

"Americans have a right to clean water flowing through their streams, rivers, and bays.   We all have a right to drinking water that is healthy.    Congress has an obligation to keep faith with the American people, by providing the tools necessary to meet with basic human health and environmental needs. We will help provide water systems that can keep water running through our pipes rather than down our streets."