Press Release

February 28, 2012

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, led a hearing today to discuss the wastewater and drinking water infrastructure needs of local municipalities, rural communities, and other similar jurisdictions. Witnesses at the hearing outlined the great challenges faced by these communities to maintain and improve their water infrastructure.

“Our nation’s water resources are at increasing risk. Our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is aging and overburdened. A number of densely populated cities are served by pipes that are at least 100 years old. This is a problem that cannot be ignored,” said Senator Cardin. “Mayors across the nation are charged with replacing aging infrastructure and meeting the demands of a growing population while simultaneously coping with the aftermath of an historic recession. The federal government must fulfill its responsibility to provide clean and safe water for all Americans.

“It is in the federal government’s economic interest to invest in water infrastructure. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, each public dollar invested in water infrastructure increases private long-term GDP output by $6.35. For the most part, the President’s recently proposed budget demonstrates this administration’s commitment to preserving clean water for our communities. Significant cuts to the State Revolving Funds, however, are worrisome at a time when many communities are struggling to meet water needs on severely constrained budgets.”

Testifying at today’s hearing were Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor, City of Baltimore and co-chair of the Water Council for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Water Council held a summit in late October on water issues facing American cities. Also, Jerry N. Johnson, General Manager, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. WSSC is working to find cost effective solutions to their drinking water and wastewater needs for an urban setting. And Kathy Horne, Executive Director, Alabama Rural Water Association. A member of the National Rural Water Association, which has member affiliates in 45 states, including Maryland, ARWA provides assistance to rural systems and provides technical training and support.

This hearing, “Local Government Perspectives on Water Infrastructure,” is a part of the follow up to the December 2011 water infrastructure hearing chaired by Senator Cardin, which explored the problems and opportunities inherent in our nation’s water infrastructure through a national lens.