WASHINGTON — The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing today on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), highlighting the need for a new, bipartisan bill that would more than double the CWSRF authorization to $4 billion per year. Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:
“From Arizona’s leaky pipes to New England’s sewage overflows, America needs to get serious about our water systems. That means dramatically increasing investments in water infrastructure that focus on prevention. We applaud U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Grace Napolitano, Don Young, and John Katko for introducing their bipartisan water infrastructure bill, which takes aim at this problem.
“Each year, billions of gallons of sewage overflows and stormwater runoff pollute our waters, close beaches, and make us sick. Communities across the country are eager for more funding to fix their wastewater treatment systems. We also need to prevent pollution using rain barrels, rooftop gardens, permeable pavement, open space, and other “green infrastructure” techniques that capture stormwater on-site before it causes pollution.
“But as Professor Jill Heaps of Vermont Law School pointed out in today’s hearing, this bipartisan bill is just the first step. After years of funding cuts, Congress will need to increase CWSRF funding to $6 billion per year just to return to Reagan-era levels. And since prevention is the smartest investment, at least 20 percent of that funding should be going directly toward green infrastructure projects—which was true of the 2009 stimulus package and continued for several years thereafter.
“Environment America is proud to stand behind this CWSRF bill, and we look forward to pushing for additional funding.”