A record 160 water utility leaders from 48 states converged on Capitol Hill in April to advocate for water infrastructure investment and source water protection during the American Water Works Association’s Water Matters! Fly-In. In more than 400 meetings, AWWA delegates expressed support for measures in the US Farm Bill that emphasized collaboration between farmers and water systems to protect drinking water sources. They also urged robust funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and state revolving loan funds that provide loans for water utilities seeking to renew aging infrastructure.
“For 16 years AWWA Fly-In delegates have brought a consistent, credible voice on water issues to our elected leaders in Washington,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “There is encouraging momentum on legislation that protects drinking water and encourages water infrastructure investment. AWWA delegates play a critical role in assuring Congress understands the issues and supports safe water and strong water systems.”
On the issue of drinking water protection, AWWA delegates supported the newly introduced Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, which would strengthen US Department of Agriculture conservation programs that protect drinking water sources from nutrient runoff. The Act includes several key measures advanced by the AWWA over the past two years and,
• emphasizes protection of drinking water sources throughout the conservation title.
• expands opportunities for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to work with water systems to prioritize activities in each state.
• increases benefits for farmers who employ practices that benefit downstream water quality.
• ensures at least 10 percent of conservation program funds is focused on the protection of drinking water.
AWWA created a whiteboard animation video to more clearly illustrate how the Farm Bill’s conservation programs are key to protecting drinking water sources. It is available on AWWA’s YouTube channel.
In the area of water infrastructure renewal, AWWA delegates will ask for support of the passage of H.R. 4492/S. 2329 to re-authorize and boost funding for WIFIA, which provides low-interest loans for large water infrastructure projects. Delegates will also support doubling appropriations for the drinking water state revolving loan fund program to $1.7 billion.
The Value of Water Campaign, of which AWWA is a founding member, released a national poll, showing that four of five voting Americans support the idea of increased investment in water infrastructure. AWWA’s 2012 study, Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge, showed the US will need to invest $1 trillion in the next 25 years to maintain and expand buried drinking water infrastructure. Wastewater needs are believed to be similar.