Statement: Water infrastructure funding at risk in Congress

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Staff | TPIN
Chesapeake Bay Beach

Conflicting House, Senate spending bills come amid sewage overflows, beach closings

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have now approved spending bills with vastly different funding levels for water infrastructure. The bipartisan Senate Interior-Environment measure approved 28-0 on Thursday dedicates $2.76 billion for “aging water infrastructure.” However, the unilaterally Republicans’ House bill would drastically cut the most analogous funding there — the regular funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which would come in at less than $1 billion for the coming year.

The dueling funding bills in Congress come amid a wave of beach closings and a recent report on pollution risks to swimmers.  

In response, Environment America’s Clean Water Director John Rumpler issued the following statement:

“With raw sewage and runoff polluting our beaches and making swimmers sick, the need for  water infrastructure funding is urgent and clear. We commend the Senate Appropriations Committee — led by Senators Patty Murray and Susan Collins – for unanimously approving $2.7 billion in this year’s spending bill to reduce sewage pollution. While wastewater repair costs are much greater — $271 billion according to the U.S. EPA — the Senate’s funding levels are more than a drop in the bucket to help communities reduce pathogen pollution.

“In contrast, if the House approves its appropriators’ drastic cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Americans can expect more beach closures and swimmers getting sick from polluted water. In Pennsylvania alone, billions of gallons of sewer overflows plague local rivers and streams around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

“When our nation adopted the Clean Water Act more than 50 years ago, we vowed to make all our waterways safe for swimming. From Boston Harbor to Portland’s Willamette River, we know that major investments to fix our sewer systems have led to cleaner water.  Congress must dive right into the waves of progress made under the bipartisan infrastructure law, not turn its back on clean water.”