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House Hearing on The Role of Federal Agencies in Water Infrastructure

On March 9, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Water Environment and Resources Subcommittee held a hearing entitled, “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: The Role of Federal Agencies in Water Infrastructure.”  During the hearing, committee members and witnesses spoke about the need for water infrastructure funding, affordability challenges, private partnerships and investments, and federal regulatory and permitting process challenges for civil works projects in navigable waters.  Key points from the hearing that should be of interest to state drinking water programs included:

  • John Linc Stine, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and President of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS), provided testimony highlighting the need for increased State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) and Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF funding, and noting small water system affordability challenges.
  • Gary McCarthy, Mayor of the City of Schenectady, New York, and representing the U.S. Conference of Mayors, provided testimony underscoring the compounding challenges his city is facing while under a consent decree from EPA — to address water infrastructure needs and redevelop Brownfield sites as part of an effort to revitalize the city after an economic downturn.
  • Kathy Pape of American Water and representing the Bipartisan Policy Center, provided testimony emphasizing the value of private investments in public projects and the need for full cost pricing to ensure water systems resiliency.
  • Other testimony and questions from Representatives and witnesses included:
    • The need to base regulatory development on intended outcomes and benefits using factual investigation and analysis, rather than bean counting.
    • A focus on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) permitting processes and related federal environmental regulations and policies that hinder the ability to evaluate, plan, undertake, and complete civil works projects on dams, locks, and levees in a timely manner and prioritize high risk projects for completion that pose the greatest risk to human life.
    • General opposition to potential cuts for EPA and USACE funding and state grants.

ASDWA believes that this hearing will help inform future House budget decision-making processes to support increased funding for state DWSRF and CWSRF programs.  For more information about the hearing and to view the video recording and written testimonies, visit the Committee’s website HERE.