More than 150 water managers from 49 states and Puerto Rico met with U.S. Congress in March to urge support for programs that reinvest in water infrastructure and protect water quality. Water leaders were on Capitol Hill for the Water Matters! Fly-In, hosted by the American Water Works Association. In more than 300 meetings over two days, the delegates informed US senators and representatives on key water issues, including addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water, advancing source water protection and funding programs that provide communities with critical water infrastructure loans.
America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, passed in October of last year, represents an important step forward in addressing America’s trillion-dollar water infrastructure challenge. It reauthorized the innovative new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and for time-tested state revolving loan funds (SRFs). However, to reach their potential, these federal loan programs must be fully funded in current and future federal budgets. Specifically, AWWA delegates call upon Congress to:
- Provide fully authorized funding in fiscal year 2020 for:
- $1.3 billion for the drinking water SRF program
- $50 million for the WIFIA program
- Begin discussions for re-authorization of the drinking water and wastewater SRF programs and of WIFIA
- Maintain funding for conservation programs at the US Department of Agriculture as authorized in last year’s Farm Bill, particularly the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) at $300 million in FY2020
AWWA members also thanked Congress for emphasizing the protection of drinking water sources in the recently passed farm bill, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. The bill – the key issue in last year’s AWWA Fly-In – provides funds for programs and partnerships that allow agricultural producers and water utilities to collaborate on source water protection. It included virtually every one of AWWA’s key asks.
Water quality and the protection of public health has been at the core of AWWA’s mission since the Association was founded in 1881. PFAS in water is a rising concern nationwide and AWWA believes the US EPA should have the tools it needs to make accurate, health-based decisions on how to address the contaminant. Delegates will be asking Congress to support US EPA with resources necessary for health effects studies, the creation of analytical methods to quantify levels of PFAS and the exploration of technologies to efficiently and effectively remove the contaminants.