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January 29, 1999

AMSA Briefs Senate Environment & Public Works Committee

Last week, AMSA briefed Senate Environment & Public Works Committee staff on the Association's legislative priorities for the 106th Congress. While stressing the importance of the Urban Wet Weather Management Act of 1999, nonpoint source pollution control and stepped up federal funding for CSOs, SSOs, stormwater and nonpoint source controls, AMSA also informed Senate staff of the Association's stance on other key issues including TMDLs, Superfund, pretreatment, watershed management, the Municipal Biological Monitoring Act of 1999 and the Arid West Water Quality Act. AMSA explained to Senate staff the problems facing wastewater agencies as a result of EPA's current TMDL program and notified them of the Association's new TMDL guidance encouraging dischargers to intervene in the TMDL process to protect their rights. AMSA suggested to the committee staff that TMDLs, as they are currently applied, might be ripe for legislative action to fix nagging problems such as growth restrictions and the potential exemption of nonpoint sources. AMSA also requested the Senate's help in securing $1.775 million to support the National Biosolids Partnership. Currently AMSA is drafting letters to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees — Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Rep. James Walsh (D-N.Y.) — requesting further federal support for the partnership.

Nationwide Survey Shows Strong Support For Wastewater Funding

The 1999 Rebuild America Infrastructure Survey — released January 27 — shows overwhelming support for federal spending on a wide array of infrastructure including “transportation, sanitation and water quality.” AMSA is a member of the Rebuild America Coalition, an organization of 60 public and private groups that are focusing attention at all levels of government on strengthening the nation's infrastructure. Of those polled, 66 percent considered infrastructure spending a “strong investment in America.” In fact, 55 percent believes that more federal dollars directed to wastewater agencies would have a “noticeable” effect on wastewater treatment. The survey supports AMSA's position that more federal money is necessary to maintain existing wastewater infrastructure and at the same time address the challenges posed by wet weather in the form of agricultural runoff, combined and sanitary sewer overflows (CSOs and SSOs) and stormwater. It also demonstrates that the public understands the clear connection between federal dollars and cleaner water. Interestingly, the survey shows public support for watershed-based clean water regulation. For example, 61 percent favor an approach “that focuses on an overall coordinated plan that takes into account all environmental concerns” rather than one that “focuses on the specific, known sources of pollution.” The survey suggests that the public would support more federal money to balance the current ratio of local dollars to federal dollars spent to safeguard water quality. The entire survey is available on the web at

Clarification/AMSA's Peak Performance Awards Program (see Member Update 99-1)

Platinum Awards are presented to member agency facilities who have received Gold Awards for five consecutive years. According to Board of Directors policy, “the award of Platinum Awards is not rolling. Upon receipt of a Platinum Award, a facility must receive Gold Awards for the next five consecutive years to again qualify.” We hope this clarifies questions regarding eligibility for Platinum Awards, and we apologize for any confusion caused by the omission of this information from Member Update 99-1.