Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - March 28, 2001

March 28, 2001
Contact: Lee Garrigan, 202/833-4655, AMSA

AMSA Addresses Water Infrastructure Needs Before Congress

Washington, DC – "The time has come to once again make water infrastructure funding a national priority" Pat Karney, Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, told the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment this morning. Karney testified on behalf of the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) in one of the first in a series of Congressional hearings to address closing the $23 billion funding gap between current local investments in water and wastewater infrastructure and what is needed over the next 20 years to replace aging and failing pipes and meet Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act mandates.

The environmental gains made by the water and wastewater community over the past thirty years are impressive, but they are in jeopardy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the nation will lose a generation of water quality progress without significant new investment in water and wastewater infrastructure. "Recently, more than a million consumers in California were plunged into darkness as the nation's energy crisis deepened. Imagine what would happen if the nation's water and wastewater systems began to fail," Karney stated. "As the Director of Cincinnati's sewer district, could I ask our consumers to tolerate untreated or unsafe water? I think not, because the failure of wastewater systems could create a public health emergency, cause widespread environmental degradation, and lead to an erosion of our local economies."

The $23 billion gap is documented in two reports released by the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), most recently in last month’s Water Infrastructure Now: Recommendations for Clean and Safe Water in the 21st Century (WINow), which has been endorsed by AMSA and over 30 nationally-recognized organizations. The WINow report makes specific recommendations on bridging the infrastructure funding gap through a renewed federal commitment to the nation’s municipalities. By authorizing an average of $11.5 billion per year in capitalization funds over the next five years the federal government will provide states with the necessary funds to offer grants and loans to local water and wastewater agencies for repairs and replacement of aging infrastructure.

"We commend Congress on addressing the issue of infrastructure needs," AMSA Executive Director Ken Kirk said. "Cincinnati is only one of thousands of cities, counties, and towns facing aging infrastructure. This problem may be ‘out of sight’ but it no longer can stay ‘out of mind’. The time to do something about this problem is now. We look forward to working with the Congress to identify workable solutions to preserving the environmental gains of the last decades," Kirk added.

Copies of WINow and the text of Mr. Karney’s testimony are available at

The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies represents the interests of the nation’s municipal wastewater treatment agencies. AMSA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater each day. AMSA’s members are true environmental practitioners dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of the nation’s waters.