AMSA Declares Funding Shortfall as Most Pressing Challenge

Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - October 8, 2002

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2002
Contact: Adam Krantz, 202/833-4651, AMSA

At Senate Hearing Marking the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act
AMSA Declares Funding Shortfall as Most Pressing Challenge
The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) is pleased to testify today before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which officially will take place October 18. In his testimony, Paul Pinault, AMSA’s President and Executive Director of the Narragansett Bay Commission in Providence, Rhode Island, points to the clean water progress the nation’s publicly owned wastewater treatment works have helped to ensure over the past thirty years. Pinault, however, also points to the urgent need for a renewed federal commitment to clean water infrastructure funding to continue the environmental and public health gains made to date under the Clean Water Act.

In his testimony, Pinault states that “the success of the Clean Water Act is due, in large part, to the hard work, ingenuity and dedication of local wastewater treatment officials. From the early 1900s, municipal governments have provided the majority of financial support for water pollution control.” Pinault cautions the Committee, however, that while much more work still needs to be done to clean up and restore the nation’s waters, “the measurable gap between projected clean water investment needs and current levels of spending continues to grow, [and] local ratepayers will be unable to foot the bill for the costs associated with increasingly stringent requirements of the Clean Water Act.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] released a pivotal report last week entitled “The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis,” in which the Agency estimates that the 20 year gap for clean water infrastructure funding could be as high as $442 billion. However, the federal commitment to fund continued water quality improvements has declined drastically in recent years, leaving municipalities to shoulder more than 90% of current infrastructure repair and replacement costs. The critical work of the nation’s public treatment utility employees — America’s working environmentalists who every day treat billions of gallons of wastewater and help restore the nation’s waters — has been slowed by this dramatic decline in the federal financial commitment to clean water infrastructure. At the same time, the nation’s municipalities face the cumulative burden of costly federal clean water regulations, and the additional challenge that soaring security costs have posed to already tight local budgets.

As Ken Kirk, AMSA’s Executive Director, states “there is no better moment than the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act for Congress to acknowledge the water quality progress we have made under the Act; nevertheless, it would be short-sighted if Congress does not also use this unique opportunity to recommit itself to ensuring the nation’s public health and environment by developing a long-term sustainable solution to the nation’s core water and wastewater infrastructure funding needs. AMSA looks forward to working with the EPW Committee and the rest of Congress to develop such a solution.”

AMSA is a national trade association representing over 270 of the nation's public wastewater utilities who are, despite a sharp decline in federal funding, dealing with the expensive challenges of an ailing infrastructure comprised of old, worn pipes and treatment facilities in desperate need of upgrades. These wastewater treatment officials are environmental practitioners dedicated to protecting and improving the nation's public health and its water, and collectively treat and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day.

1816 Jefferson Place, Washington, DC 20036-2505 • 202.833.AMSA • 202.833.4657 FAX