Rep. Blumenauer introduces the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act

August 2, 2012 | General RCAP News

Would provide desperately needed investment in America’s clean water infrastructure

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act of 2012 (HR 6249) on Aug. 1, a bill that will provide a deficit-neutral, consistent, and protected source of revenue to help states replace, repair, and rehabilitate critical wastewater treatment facilities.

Over the past several years, America’s water infrastructure needs have grown to more than $9.3 billion per year, while federal funding for clean water has declined and averaged just over $1.25 billion a year since 2000. This enormous discrepancy pushes a higher and higher percentage of costs onto local governments and ratepayers, whose rates have grown at twice the pace of inflation in recent years.  New sources of revenue, which will reduce consumer costs over the long term, are necessary to meet communities’ water infrastructure and environmental restoration needs.

“We have dedicated funding for the nation’s transportation systems,” said Blumenauer. “It’s time to establish a similar trust fund to finance clean water infrastructure. We cannot continue to place the burden of protecting public health, restoring the environment, and reducing pollution on communities and individuals who are simply unable to afford it.”

The Water Protection and Reinvestment Act would raise revenue by assessing small fees on a broad base of those who use water and contribute to water pollution. These revenue sources were analyzed in a recent Government Accountability Office report and are expected to raise around $6.5 billion a year. These funds would go to a variety of programs including grants and loans through the existing Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF), as well as grants for energy and water efficiency; sewer overflow control; research, development, and technology demonstration; and workforce development. The National Association of Utility Contractors estimates that for every $1 billion invested in water infrastructure, 26,000 jobs are created. Using that estimate, the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act would create at least 169,000 jobs over ten years.

Numerous national organizations have expressed their support for the bill including the American Society of Civil Engineers, Association of General Contractors, Sierra Club, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Water Infrastructure Network, International Union of Operating Engineers, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Rivers, American Public Works Association, Alliance for Water Efficiency, and United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters.

“For too long, those who are using vast amounts of water and contributing most to the pollution of our water have gotten free ride on the backs of taxpayers,” continued Blumenauer. “This broadly supported bill will make sure that everyone pays their fair share, and that the funds raised go to securing clean water for our future.”

“Wastewater services are critical to community and economic development in rural America. The Water Protection and Reinvestment Act would provide a long-term, sustainable, dedicated funding source for wastewater infrastructure. With these funds, small towns would have access to the affordable financing they need to develop the infrastructure necessary to attract industry and entrepreneurs, create jobs, and protect public health and the environment,” said Robert Stewart, RCAP Executive Director