Funding Cut to Clean Water Loan Program Shows Need for Trust Fund

Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - November 23, 2004

For Immediate Release: November 23, 2004
Contact: Adam Krantz: 202/833-4651, AMSA

Funding Cut to Clean Water Loan Program Shows Need for Trust Fund
Congress this weekend passed the budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of a $388.4 billion omnibus package. EPA for the first time in recent years will be forced to operate with a budget cut, as Congress slashed agency spending by $277 million. The vast majority of the funding reductions were obtained by cutting the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) by $250 million (from $1.35 billion to $1.1 billion), a fifteen percent reduction from recent funding levels.

The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) believes this cut is further evidence of the federal government’s untenable position that the nation’s water quality does not require federal participation. AMSA, and a broad coalition of state and local organizations, labor, construction and environmental and public health groups, helped ensure that the funding cut was not more drastic (the Administration and the House initially sought to reduce the CWSRF by $500 million) by calling on lawmakers to hold funding for the SRF at recent levels. The Association believes these cuts demonstrate that it is time to move in the direction of a dedicated trust fund for clean and safe water in America.

Ken Kirk, AMSA’s Executive Director, stated that “without a long-term, sustainable federal commitment to clean water funding, communities will not be able to tackle the current backlog of capital replacement projects, to meet mandates associated with controlling wet weather overflows, or to improve the quality of the nation’s waterways.”

When Congress enacted the Water Pollution Control Act in 1972, it stated that “the lack of adequate funding of grants to assist States and localities in constructing sewage treatment plants is causing critical problems,” and noted that “the need for Federal spending is rising rapidly.” The necessary funding, however, has not been forthcoming and recent studies from EPA, the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, and the Water Infrastructure Network estimate a water infrastructure funding gap of between $300 and $600 billion over the next 20 years.

Facing similar shortfalls in funding for critical national infrastructure, Congress has established trust funds supported by dedicated revenue sources. For example, Congress has established trust funds for transportation infrastructure ($30 billion/year) and airport infrastructure ($8 billion/year). To narrow the clean and safe water infrastructure funding shortfall, AMSA will work with Congress to establish a trust fund similar to those now used for highways and airports.

AMSA is a national trade association representing hundreds of the nation's publicly owned wastewater treatment utilities. AMSA 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. AMSA members are environmental practitioners dedicated to protecting and improving the nation's waters and public health.

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