Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - August 9, 2001
For Immediate Release: August 9, 2001
Contact: Adam Krantz, 202/833-4651, AMSA
NRDCs U.S. Beaches Report Heightens Case For Water Infrastructure Funding
An August 8 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report documents a sharp increase in beach closings, a portion of which are caused by wet weather overflows. Despite massive investment by the wastewater community to deal with this serious issue, a comprehensive solution is possible only with a significant increase in federal water infrastructure funding to upgrade aging pipes and wastewater treatment facilities.
"Wastewater treatment officials are partners with environmentalists in the shared goal of eradicating beach contamination. We are also partners in seeking the needed increase in federal water infrastructure funding that can make this a reality," says the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA), Ken Kirk.
Absent the more comprehensive beach monitoring called for in the NRDCs report, Testing the Waters: A Guide to Beach Quality at Vacation Beaches the study shows that closures will continue to impact local economies. "Tourist expenditures in coastal counties of 16 coastal states total over $104 billion" per year, says the report, much of which is lost due to more than 11,000 beach closings and advisories in 2000. In addition to the economic burden, the potential negative impact on public health is a serious concern to all involved.
AMSA is a national trade association representing over 260 of the nations public wastewater utilities who are working hard, despite a sharp decline in federal funding, to deal with the expensive realities 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 nations public health and its waters, including the nations beaches, and collectively treat and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day. AMSA supports the NRDCs efforts to improve beach monitoring in all coastal communities. AMSAs members, however, face head-on the difficult, indeed insurmountable, financial restraints that make dealing with this problem so difficult.
To solve the water infrastructure funding problem, AMSA participates as a founding member in the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) a broad-based coalition of environmentalists, local elected officials, drinking water and wastewater service providers, state environmental and health administrators, and engineers dedicated to protecting the health and environmental gains of Americas drinking water and wastewater.
An April 2000 report by WIN estimates that Americas wastewater systems face an estimated funding shortfall of $12 billion a year over the next twenty years to replace failing pipes and to meet the water quality mandates of the Clean Water Act, including ensuring more effective controls during periods of heavy rainfall.
Wastewater agencies face an impossible situation. Not only have the past twenty years seen a dramatic decline in federal capital investment for water infrastructure repair and upgrades, from $10 billion in 1980 to virtually nothing today, but federal and state regulations on the wastewater community have increased, adding to the financial burden that communities face.
AMSA believes the solution to this identified problem is clear: federal water infrastructure funding.