Member Pipeline - Clean Water Current - February 2, 2007
February 2, 2007
House Subcommittee Acts on Bills Authorizing Money for Clean Water Infrastructure
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment approved two bills this week that would open the door for significant new funding for vital wastewater infrastructure projects. The Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 (H.R. 720) would reauthorize the clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF) at $20 billion in fiscal years 2008-2012 and calls for “a study of the funding mechanisms and funding sources available to establish a Clean Water Trust Fund.” The study, called for by NACWA in testimony before the subcommittee at Jan. 19 hearing on clean water infrastructure funding needs, would be conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and must be completed by Jan. 1, 2008. The subcommittee this week also marked up the Water Quality Investment Act of 2007 (H.R. 569), which would authorize $1.8 billion in grants in fiscal years 2008-2012 for combined and sanitary sewer overflow projects.
The full committee will consider both bills when it meets Feb. 7, and H.R. 720 is expected to be scheduled for consideration on the House Floor by Feb. 16. While NACWA is pleased that the leadership of the 110th Congress is making the clean water infrastructure funding a priority, NACWA will be working hard to ensure that these bills result in real dollars. The need for members to contact and meet with their Representatives in support of these legislative efforts was consistently emphasized at the Association’s Winter Conference that took place in St. Petersburg, Fla., this week (see story below).
NACWA Winter Conference Successful with Timely Discussions on Rising Utility Costs
NACWA’s Winter Conference, held this week in St. Petersburg, Fla., was a huge success with its focus on the timely topic, Global Trends Impacting Public Utilities … The Rising Cost of Clean. The stage for the conference was set by Kenneth Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, who spoke on increases in the costs of construction materials, including concrete, asphalt, plastics, and petroleum. Some of the increases in construction materials occur because they have to be imported since the domestic supplies have not kept up with demand. High shipping costs help increase the prices of these products. The cost of oil also fluctuates, creating uncertainty when trying to estimate the actual costs of projects. He did offer utilities some sense of relief by noting that the double digit increases in costs that have been typical over the past several years, may give way to more moderate cost increases in the coming year.
Paul Reiter, the executive director of the International Water Association, provided a more global view of population growth and trends in water use. Increasing population, which is occurring most rapidly in arid areas of the United States as well as globally, is putting ever greater pressure on water supplies and, as such, on clean water agencies to become suppliers of water. Nitrogen, one of the toughest pollutants to control, is also the most significant water pollution problem globally. He spoke of the fact that clean water agencies, drinking water agencies, and stormwater authorities must work cooperatively to manage the water quality and quantity challenges of the 21st century and applauded NACWA’s efforts at thinking outside of traditional silos. Reiter also noted that clean water agencies would have to be on the cutting of new technologies, pointing to membrane technologies, nanotechnologies, and biotechnologies as both offering new solutions and challenges.
The presentations from the conference will be made available to NACWA members on the Association’s Conferences & Meetings webpage (www.nacwa.org/meetings/) and a Member Update will also be distributed soon containing summaries of the Conference’s standing committee meetings. Thank you to all the participants and speakers who made this year’s Winter Conference such a success.