Administration Proposes Dramatic Cut to Key Clean Water Program

Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - February 6, 2006

For Immediate Release: February 6, 2006
Contact: Adam Krantz , 202.833.4651

Administration Proposes Dramatic Cut to Key Clean Water Program NACWA Seeks Support for Clean Water Trust Act of 2005, H.R. 4560
The Bush Administration today proposed in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 budget to dramatically cut clean water funding. The Administration is seeking to cut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget for FY 2007 by over $300 million (from FY 2006’s enacted level of $7.625 billion to $7.31 billion). The vast majority of this reduction would be achieved by a proposed cut of approximately $200 million (from $887 million to $687 million) to the Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program. The CWSRF, a loan program that helps local communities repair and replace aging treatment plants, has been the primary source of federal support for clean water infrastructure projects since its creation in 1987.

Studies by EPA, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) estimate a water infrastructure funding gap exceeding $300 billion over the next 20 years. Given this mounting funding gap, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) believes it is untenable for the federal government to cut support for clean water in America. While NACWA believes that improved utility management and rate increases at the local level are critical to addressing this daunting funding gap, the Association is also calling on Congress and the White House to support the recently introduced Clean Water Trust Act of 2005, H.R. 4560. H.R. 4560 is landmark legislation that would create a deficit-neutral, clean water trust fund to guarantee clean and safe water in America for the long-term.

To achieve these objectives, H.R. 4560 would provide approximately $7.5 billion a year from 2006 – 2010 in loans and grants to cities, counties, towns and townships to address the backlog of critical clean water projects, meet unfunded mandates, and improve utility management based on state-determined priorities. The Clean Water Trust Act of 2005 also will enhance fisheries, encourage research, spur new technologies, and protect critical regional waters such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico.

Responding to the Bush Administration’s action, Ken Kirk, NACWA’s Executive Director, stated that “this proposed budget cut to the CWSRF is the wrong measure at the wrong time. Without a long-term, sustainable federal-state-local partnership communities will not be able to tackle essential capital replacement projects needed to meet federal Clean Water Act mandates and improve the quality of the nation’s waters. H.R. 4560, on the other hand, would ensure funding for the CWSRF and guarantee a meaningful federal re-commitment to achieving the lofty goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act.”

Facing similar shortfalls in funding for critical national infrastructure, Congress has established trust funds supported by dedicated revenue sources. Congressionally established trust funds for highway infrastructure ($30 billion/year) and airport infrastructure ($8 billion/year) provide a strong precedent for moving forward with a similar trust fund for clean and safe water. “Clean and safe water is certainly as important to the nation’s economic and public health as our highways and airports,” said Kirk. NACWA, together with a broad array of stakeholder groups, will work aggressively with Congress and the Administration – to ensure full funding for the CWSRF and to establish a trust fund dedicated to clean and safe water in America.

NACWA is a national trade association representing hundreds of the nation's publicly owned wastewater treatment utilities. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day. NACWA members are environmental practitioners dedicated to protecting and improving the nation's waters and public health.

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