The chief executive officer of the National Utility Contractors Association, Doug Carlson, issued the following statement in reaction to proposed bipartisan legislation unveiled April 22 in the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:
“While the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA) and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act (DWIA) of 2020 are comprehensive, the funding levels included for certain programs should be reevaluated. We applaud Sens. Barrasso and Carper for taking a wide-ranging approach to addressing America’s water infrastructure needs.
“While the AWIA includes marginal increases to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), they are not enough to take meaningful steps towards bridging the gap between what is needed and what is currently invested. In fact, the vast majority of the bill consists of water resources projects related to ports and shoreline protection, usually overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Moreover, the DWIA includes no significant increases in funding for the Drinking Water SRF other than $300 million in grants to assist in the remediation of drinking water contamination.
“NUCA understands the need to provide relief to local government entities, including municipal water and wastewater authorities as provided in both AWIA and DWIA, and we appreciate the intent of this language. However, these resources should not be provided at the expense of water/wastewater infrastructure projects.
“Both AWIA and DWIA should include significant increases in authorized funding for both the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs. The WIFIA program has proven successful since its establishment – the only problem is a lack of funding. Reauthorizing WIFIA at current levels will do next to nothing to address our environmental infrastructure needs or make WIFIA more sustainable. In addition to traditional public funding, Congress should consider measures that would open the door for more private sector investment through innovative financing, such as lifting the cap on private activity bonds for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
“However, at a time when national funding needs are around a half trillion dollars, lawmakers will have to include much more investment to both AWIA and DWIA for this legislation to make a real difference. NUCA will be working in the weeks ahead to increase Congress’s commitment to clean water and economic growth.”