Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - October 31, 2001
For Immediate Release: October 31, 2001
Contact: Adam Krantz, 202/833-4651, AMSA
AMSA Backs Increased Federal
Water Infrastructure Funds at Senate Hearing
Paul Pinault, AMSA Vice President and Executive Director of the Narragansett Bay Commission ("the Commission") in Providence, Rhode Island testified today before the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water that municipal governments are being innovative in stretching existing funds, but that increased federal funding remains a critical necessity to ensure the future of the nations aging water and wastewater infrastructure. AMSA represents the interests of more than 260 publicly owned treatment works across the country which provide service to the majority of the United States' sewered population.
"While infrastructure security demands require local governments to stretch limited dollars even further, it becomes increasingly clear that adequate financial resources to communities like mine are the most essential elements to maintaining our nations water and wastewater infrastructure," said Pinault. "Yet, since 1980, according to studies by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the private sector, federal contributions for water and wastewater infrastructure projects have declined by an astounding 75 percent. Despite this funding drop, I assure you that wastewater utilities are being extremely innovative in order to get the most out of the limited dollars available."
Pinault mentioned the creative measures public wastewater utilities have been taking in handling their public debt, including asset management initiatives, environmental management systems, debt restructuring and pooled borrowing, which allows for utilities to band together to reduce the cost of expensive bond issuances. Pinault pointed out, however, that despite the creative financial management his Commission and others demonstrate, by 2006 debt payments will comprise 54 percent of every dollar his Commission earns. While the state revolving fund has been helpful, noted Pinault, major changes to it are necessary to support the massive needs of wastewater infrastructure upgrades and compliance with growing federal regulations.
As AMSAs Executive Director Ken Kirk says, "local governments do a remarkable job figuring out creative ways to stretch their dollars. The reality is that they need more dollars. Only the federal government can step in to make sure that the nation has clean and safe water for the long-term and that the necessary upgrades are made to our ailing and aging water and wastewater infrastructure."
Pinault also took the opportunity to thank Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT) and the supporters of a critical bill introduced yesterday that would provide much-needed research and development funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure security, stating "I and AMSA sincerely hope this measure passes swiftly with the full bipartisan support it merits." Pinault added that AMSA and the Water Infrastructure Network also urge the Subcommittee and the full Congress to support a five year, $57 billion federal funding plan to capitalize state-administered grant and loan programs for water and wastewater infrastructure.
Paul Pinaults testimony is available at http://www.amsa-cleanwater.org/advocacy/testimony/10-31-01testimony.cfm.
1816 Jefferson Place, Washington, DC 20036-2505 202.833.AMSA 202.833.4657 FAX