WASHINGTON – Building on legislation he introduced in previous sessions of Congress, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has introduced new legislation (S. 2532) to dramatically increase the authorization 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 dangerous cuts in recent years. With an update to FY16 authorizations, this new legislation would provide immediate authorization for additional resources that would assist Flint, Mich., and other localities nationwide that are attempting to cope with dangerous levels of lead and other pollutants in their water supplies, as well as crumbling water systems.
“Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink. That confidence has been shaken thanks to the current crisis in Flint, Mich., and other communities that also are facing toxic levels of lead and pollutants in their water, including my hometown of Baltimore. Daily water main breaks that spill water and pollutants into city streets, harming businesses and local communities with emergency repairs, are major warning signs telling us that we have to do more,” said Senator Cardin. “Pipes may be out of sight, but they cannot be out of mind. We cannot hide from our problems anymore. We need to face them and minimize the risks to our communities and our children. Urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods – in every community in America – all rely on safe, clean water. Our health and our livelihoods will continue to be in danger if we do not act decisively.”
Senator Cardin recently wrote to Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, urging him to ensure greater resources for the SRFs in President Obama’s FY17 Budget. “The U.S. is facing a serious and growing need for repairs to and replacements of its aging water and wastewater infrastructure. … Much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life and represents a serious public health problem. Underfunding of our vital water and wastewater infrastructure is an issue we cannot ignore.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent estimates, more than $655 billion may be needed to repair and replace drinking water and wastewater infrastructure nationwide over the next 20 years. This comes to $32.75 billion per year, every year for 20 years, yet we are spending barely $2 billion combined on both the Drinking Water and Clean Water SRFs.
The full text of the bill, S. 2532, follows and can be downloaded here.
Title: To authorize appropriations for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. DRINKING WATER STATE REVOLVING FUND.
Section 1452 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300j–12) is amended by striking subsection (m) and inserting the following:
“(m) Authorization of Appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section—
“(1) $3,130,000,000 for fiscal year 2016;
“(2) $3,600,000,000 for fiscal year 2017;
“(3) $4,140,000,000 for fiscal year 2018;
“(4) $4,800,000,000 for fiscal year 2019; and
“(5) $5,500,000,000 for fiscal year 2020.”.
SEC. 2. CLEAN WATER STATE REVOLVING FUND.
Title VI of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1381 et seq.) is amended by striking section 607 and inserting the following:
“SEC. 607. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
“There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this title—
“(1) $5,180,000,000 for fiscal year 2016;
“(2) $5,960,000,000 for fiscal year 2017;
“(3) $6,850,000,000 for fiscal year 2018;
“(4) $7,880,000,000 for fiscal year 2019; and
“(5) $9,060,000,000 for fiscal year 2020.”.