Feb 08, 2016

Representatives Introduce Legislation to Aid States' Drinking Water Facilities

Water Investment Trust Fund will provide protected source of revenue for states

water investment trust fund act, legislation, blumenauer, duncan, hanna

Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D–OR), John Duncan (R–TN) and Richard Hanna (R–NY) have introduced the Water Investment Trust Fund Act, legislation that will provide a small, deficit-neutral, protected source of revenue to help states replace, repair and rehabilitate critical clean and drinking water facilities by creating a voluntary labeling and contributory system to which businesses that rely on a clean water source could opt in.

Our water infrastructure is falling behind due to declining federal funding. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure a grade of “D” in their most recent report card. While our clean water needs are estimated to be nearly $15 billion a year, appropriations for clean water infrastructure have averaged less than $2 billion a year since 2000.  Drinking water infrastructure is in no better shape. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that we need to invest over $19 billion annually to ensure the provision of safe tap water, while Congress appropriates less than $1 billion.

As seen by the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., it is critical that we maintain and improve our water infrastructure. Water infrastructure problems, however, are not confined to tragedies such as these. Last year alone, American communities suffered more than 240,000 water main breaks and saw overflowing combined sewer systems, causing contamination, property damage, disruptions in the water supply and massive traffic jams.

The Water Infrastructure Trust Fund Act allows businesses to choose to place a small label on their products indicating their commitment to protecting America’s clean water, contributing $0.03 to the Water Infrastructure Trust Fund for each unit bearing the label. The Trust Fund revenue will be distributed to the states as grants and loans through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) to help public water systems finance wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects. The legislation also commissions an EPA study of the water affordability gap facing low-income populations and an analysis of solutions to systemic barriers affecting access to safe water systems.