WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today lauded the recent unanimous Senate passage of the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, S. 692, which equips local governments with more tools to deal comprehensively with infrastructure and stormwater challenges, while promoting the use of green infrastructure. The bipartisan legislation includes provisions to prevent the disproportionate impacts of water and sewer bill hikes on low-income Americans, which has been particularly problematic in cities like Baltimore.
Co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Cardin, Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the legislation would provide local communities with increased flexibility when complying with Clean Water Act requirements for updates to water infrastructure projects. The bill would also give communities more autonomy as they prioritize and plan for wastewater and storm water investments.
“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 at a reasonable cost to consumers. Every community in America — urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods — will be helped by this bipartisan effort to improve our nation’s water infrastructure,” said Senator Cardin. “I am particularly pleased to know that this legislation will help limit the disproportionate impacts of sewer and water bill hikes on low-income Americans, and make critical advancements in the use of green wastewater management strategies.”
The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act would:
Provide communities with flexibility to prioritize investments in wastewater and storm water projects needed for CWA compliance.
Establish an Office of Municipal Ombudsman at EPA to assist cities in complying with federal environmental laws.
Compel the EPA to promote green infrastructure, which uses or mimics natural processes to infiltrate or reuse storm water runoff beneficially on-site where it is generated.
Require the EPA to update and expand the criteria for determining affordability and revise its guidance for affordability measures.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) have endorsed the legislation.
Click here to read the text of the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act.