WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today held a hearing entitled, “Reinvestment and Rehabilitation of Our Nation’s Drinking Water Delivery Systems.”
Last Congress, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act was signed into law and included new funding provisions under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which fall under the committee’s jurisdiction. That legislation provided new funding for disadvantaged communities, lead pipe replacement, and deployment of innovative technologies across the country to improve drinking water infrastructure. Members of the subcommittee examined drinking water infrastructure needs across the country and ways to bring greater investment in and updates to these systems so they can operate well in the future.
Chairman Shimkus and Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) talk ahead of today’s hearing
“Currently, more than 51,000 community water systems treat 42 billion gallons of water for use by 299 million Americans daily,” said Chairman Shimkus. “Last year, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act authorized $600 million between two new programs dedicated to tackling lead pipe replacement and aiding economically disadvantaged and underserved communities. While I think these are solid steps, we must also reauthorize the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRF).”
Witnesses begin to deliver their testimony to #SubEnvironment committee members
Rudolph Chow, P.E., Director of the Baltimore, MD, Department of Public Works, on behalf of the American Municipal Water Association, testified, “Fortunately, Congress has begun to give this issue the attention it deserves. Last year’s passage of the Water Infrastructure for the Nation Act authorized funding for a new program aimed at removing and replacing outdated lead service lines and helping low-income customers absorb their share of these replacement costs. …All of this represents good progress, but we know that much more remains to be done.”
Martin A. Kropelnicki, President and CEO of the California Water Service Group, on behalf of the National Association of Water Companies, spoke to the importance of private water utilities, commenting, “The private water utility sector stands able, ready, and willing to partner with local and state governments, as well as the federal government, to help meet the challenges our nation’s water infrastructure will face in the coming years and decades.”
John J. Donahue, CEO of North Park Public Water District and former President of the American Water Works Association, commented on the importance of working closely with Congress, stating, “Working closely with Congress, we hope to stimulate reinvestment in water infrastructure, top-shelf cybersecurity, protection of source water, smart approaches to affordability, an efficient energy-water nexus and a focus on scientific integrity in our regulatory processes.”
“Moving forward, this is not going to be an easy discussion, but to be successful; it is one we must have. I believe we must not be afraid to spend more federal money on this issue, but we must maintain local fees as the primary generator of funds for daily operation and maintenance of public water systems, as well as their long-term capital investment needs,” concluded Chairman Shimkus. “Today’s hearing provided us the opportunity to look broadly at our nation’s drinking water infrastructure and examine questions about what is necessary for the federal government to do in the way of reinvestment and rehabilitation of these systems to meet future needs.”
A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of today’s hearing can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE.