WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), both senior members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), have joined together during National Infrastructure Week to introduce bipartisan legislation to bring affordable relief to America’s crumbling water infrastructure systems. The bill, S. 1137 – Clean, Safe, Reliable Water Infrastructure Act, would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to expand the availability of resources for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Senator Cardin, who is Co-Chair of National Infrastructure Week, serves as Ranking Member of the EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. Senator Boozman serves as Chairman of the EPW Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee.
“We cannot afford to ignore our vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Year after year, Senator Boozman and I work together to combat the growing need for repairs to America’s aging drinking water and wastewater systems. We recognize the public health risk and economic jeopardy from a growing population placing greater demands on a water infrastructure system that is nearing the end of its useful life,” said Senator Cardin. “Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink and that Congress will do everything within its power to ensure that happens. We also want to make sure that we are getting more bang for the buck, and that means using water more efficiently. It’s why our bill authorizes support for the WaterSense partnership that encourages voluntary reduction of water consumption by consumers and businesses, delivering more than $33 billion to consumers in water and energy bill savings.”
“Our infrastructure needs can’t be a partisan issue, as clean water is key to quality of life and economic development in communities across Arkansas and the nation. That’s why Senator Cardin and I have teamed up once again to address the growing needs of our communities in a bipartisan manner. Improving our nation’s wastewater systems and ensuring Americans have access to clean water is something we can all get behind, especially when it is accomplished in a manner that promotes openness, competition and efficiency,” said Senator Boozman.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors found, on average, municipalities spend between 6 to 7 cents of every tax dollar on water and sewer systems. This makes water infrastructure the third-largest expense for cities, after education and emergency personnel. S. 1137, the Clean, Safe, Reliable Water Infrastructure Act, works to make this expense more manageable for localities by promoting open competition for contracts for water infrastructure projects, and by committing federal resources to address combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and stormwater discharges and their associated health and ecological risks. Unfortunately, sometimes the water bodies receiving this pollution are the source of our drinking water, and other times the untreated sewage backs up into people’s homes. This legislation helps tackle costs that come with making changes to water and sewer systems that have served millions of people for more than a century, but have become outdated and a threat to public health and the environment.
Title I – Drinking Water Infrastructure
Sec. 101 – Sense of Congress that Congress should provide robust funding of capitalization grants to States to fund those States’ drinking water treatment revolving loan funds established under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the State water pollution control revolving funds.
Sec. 102 – Expands authorized activities under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Makes implementation of source water protection plans an eligible use of assistance from a state revolving loan fund.
Sec. 103 – Applies the Brooks Act relating to negotiation of contracts for architectural or engineering services applicable to use of funds provided under the state revolving loan fund, if the assistance if for a community with a population of more than 10,000.
Sec. 104 – Authorizes EPA’s voluntary WaterSense program that allows water efficient products, buildings, landscapes, facilities, processes, and service to bear a WaterSense label.
Title II – Waste Water Infrastructure:
Sec. 201 – Reauthorizes section 221 of the Clean Water Act, which authorizes grants for addressing combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and stormwater discharges, totaling $1.8 billion over five years.