Nov 21, 2013

Lawmakers Introduce Water Protection and Reinvestment Act

The bill would create a source of revenue to help states rehabilitate wastewater treatment facilities

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced the bipartisan Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund Act of 2013, along with Reps. Tim Bishop (NY-01), John Duncan (TN-02), Donna F. Edwards (MD-04), Richard Hanna (NY-22), Jim Moran (VA-08), Tom Petri (WI-06) and Ed Whitfield (KY-01). This bill would provide a small, deficit-neutral, protected source of revenue to help states replace, repair and rehabilitate critical wastewater treatment facilities by creating a voluntary labeling and contributory system to which businesses that rely on a clean water source could opt-in.

While it would take more than $9.3 billion a year to maintain a clean-water infrastructure, funding has averaged just over $1.25 billion a year since 2000. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given U.S. wastewater infrastructure a grade of “D” in their most recent report card. Last year alone, American communities suffered more than 310,000 water main breaks and saw overflowing combined sewer systems, causing contamination, property damage, disruptions in the water supply and massive traffic jams.

“Day by day, and year by year, our water infrastructure falls apart,” said Blumenauer. “This bill allows responsible businesses who are dependent on clean water and effective sewage, to voluntarily contribute to rebuild and renew the system. Over the long term, the bill will save consumers and local governments millions of dollars, while helping maintain and rebuild our clean water system.”

Businesses could choose to place a small label on their products indicating their commitment to protecting America’s clean water. For each unit that displayed such a label, companies would contribute $0.03 to the Water Trust Fund. Most of these funds will be distributed as grants and loans through the existing Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to provide loans to publicly owned treatment works for wastewater treatment construction. Twenty percent of the funds will support an innovative financing program based on the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.