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October 8, 1999

AMSA Engages Senate on Clean Water Funding, Wet Weather
This week, AMSA submitted, for the record, the Urban Wet Weather Priorities Act of 1999 and other information for the first of three of Senate Environment & Public Works Committee clean water hearings to be held this month. These hearings represent an important opportunity for AMSA to further engage the Senate to increase support for the wet weather bill and the Association's positions on priority issues including funding, wet weather, and nonpoint source pollution, especially with respect to total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). In the material provided to the Committee, AMSA urged the panel to “seriously consider the Urban Wet Weather Priorities Act of 1999 as part of a narrowly targeted effort to strengthen the Clean Water Act,” that would address “the most critical clean water infrastructure issues today — the control and financing of urban wet weather pollution.”

At the Oct. 7 hearing, which focused on introduced legislation, Senators heard testimony from EPA, states, municipalities and other stakeholders on several clean water infrastructure funding bills. The bills under consideration would reauthorize the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) Program (S. 1699), authorize grants for water conservation (S. 968), and encode the 1994 Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Policy while providing grant funding for CSO mitigation projects (S.914). In his testimony, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Chuck Fox said that EPA does not currently support any of the funding bills because they would “divert scarce resources” away from other Agency priorities. Fox also said that the SRF, which will revolve at $3 billion between 2000 and 2004, is preferable to grants for funding clean water infrastructure and “will provide a substantial and sustained contribution to meeting the overall annual need.” “At the same time,” he added, “our understanding of wastewater needs is evolving, and the administration would like to encourage a constructive dialogue on the appropriate and affordable long-term funding level for the SRF program.”

AMSA also plans to inform the Senate of the Association's positions on other critical clean water issues that will arise as the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee holds its other scheduled clean water hearings this month. On Oct. 13, the Committee will hear testimony on EPA's TMDL program, and on Oct. 27, there will be a hearing on urban wet weather flows. AMSA has already briefed committee staff on municipal issues surrounding TMDLs and has requested to testify at the hearings. The National Office will keep the membership informed of developments on these issues. Additional information on legislation cited can be found in AMSA's Legislative Update.

Senate, House Agree on NBP Funding Levels
In conference this week over the VA, HUD & Independent Agencies Appropriations bill, Senate and House conferees agreed to fund the National Biosolids Partnership at $900,000 for fiscal 2001. The conference report is headed for a floor vote in the House next week, and the Senate will follow close behind.

AMSA Urges House Support of Bipartisan Superfund Bill . . .
AMSA has urged House members to sign on to bi-partisan Superfund reauthorization bill that contains language protecting municipal wastewater agencies from undue liability under Superfund. In a letter sent to representatives not currently cosponsoring the bill, AMSA recommended that they “take swift action to join your colleagues in cosponsoring” H.R. 1300 because it “recognizes the unique role of municipalities in treating and handling wastes.”