AMSA Legislative Alert LA02-06

Member Pipeline - Legislative - Alert (LA02-06)

To: Members & Affiliates
Legislative Policy Committee, Legal Affairs Committee
From: National Office
Date: July 26, 2002
Reference: LA02-06

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Following the events of September 11, 2001, AMSA launched a major initiative to obtain technical and financial assistance for security related activities at wastewater treatment agencies. The efforts of AMSA’s members and staff were successful this week with the introduction and mark up of H.R. 5169, the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2002, cosponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chair Don Young (R-AK), Ranking Member James Oberstar (D-MN), Water Resources Subcommittee Chair John J. Duncan (R-TN), and the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

John J. Duncan (R-TN), Chairman of the House T&I Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, convened a hearing on October 10, 2001, to receive testimony on water and wastewater security. The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) was represented by Mr. Patrick T. Karney, Director, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.

After months of consideration, including a demonstration for House staff of AMSA’s new Vulnerability Self Assessment Tool (VSAT™) for wastewater utilities, the leadership of the committee formally introduced H.R. 5169 on July 22, 2002. In putting the bill forth for a vote at the T&I Committee markup, Duncan said the wastewater security bill fulfilled a promise he made during the debate on the bioterrorism bill to address the funding needs of publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) in a separate bill.

The full T&I Committee unanimously agreed July 24, to favorably report the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2002 to the U.S. House of Representatives. In passing the bill out of committee, Chairman Duncan said limited attention had been given to wastewater treatment plants during recent debates on strengthening the security of the nation's infrastructure. He pointed to unsecured sewer pipes and on-site chemicals as possible targets for terrorist actions.

Authorized Activities and Funding Levels
The eight-page bipartisan bill authorizes $200 million for POTWs to conduct vulnerability assessments and to pay for improved and enhanced security at their facilities. An additional $15 million is authorized for providing technical assistance to small POTWs. The final section of the bill authorizes $1 million for each of the fiscal years 2003 through 2007 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make grants to a nonprofit organization for the improvement of vulnerability self-assessment methodologies and tools for POTWs. According to the bill, EPA “may not” ask applicants for a copy of their vulnerability assessments. A copy of the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2002 is attached for your convenience. You also can find H.R. 5169 on AMSA’s Bill Tracker in the Member Pipeline section on the AMSA web site.

AMSA has sent H.R. 5169 to Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies, in an effort to secure funds for the new authorization in the fiscal year 2003 EPA budget.

Next Steps
AMSA continues to meet with staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to encourage quick action on a companion Senate bill. AMSA will conduct a demonstration of the VSAT™ for Senate staff in early August.

Last year, the full Senate passed on December 20, 2001, a bill to establish a program to provide grants to drinking water and wastewater facilities to meet immediate security needs. S. 1608, cosponsored by EPW Committee Chairman James Jeffords (I-VT) and Ranking Member Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), would provide funds for projects such as security staffing, fencing, training, and other security-related activities. The bill authorizes $50 million for one year. The bill was sent to the House for consideration but was never addressed. Look for S. 1608 in the Bill Tracker on AMSA’s web site.

For further information, please contact Lee Garrigan at 202/833-4655 or