February 01, 2005

Crapo: Fix Water Problem In DC And The Nation

Hearing today highlights DC lead in water issue

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo held a congressional hearing today to speed up the response to high levels of lead in drinking water. He also called attention to the nationwide problem of crumbling and inadequate water infrastructure. Crapo, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, conducted the hearing today to review the detection of lead in D.C. drinking water; specifically on needed improvements in communication and the status of immediate actions and long-term solutions. Crapo and Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords met yesterday with representatives from several DC neighborhoods regarding their concerns on this issue.In his opening statement, Crapo said, â??We all need clean water, and it should be a priority in every community in our country. This issue is both complex and emotional. As such, we must proceed accordingly, without coloring facts with hard feelings, and without disregarding hard feelings with factual arguments. We have made progress on some of the concerns involved clean drinking water, but the aging water delivery system and pipes in many of our nationâ??s cities may soon need repairs and, in some cases already, are posing health risks to residents. Today we will hear about the specific problems our nationâ??s capital is having with lead in drinking water.â??Crapo continued, â??But on a greater scale, this is a serious problem that will only get worse. Many Americans are already experiencing either the problems of an aging system or the limits of a small system. Most public water systems in our country are 40 to 140 years old. All systems need to work reliably everywhere and for everyone. To accomplish this will require more money than we currently have. Congress must ensure that appropriate federal funds are available to assist in this issue, which is going to be very expensive. In 2000, the Water Infrastructure Network estimated that current infrastructure needs could cost around $1 trillion over the next 15-20 years. This is around $20 billion per year more than current spending. The EPAâ??s own â??Gap Analysisâ?? from 2002 estimates almost $300 billion in infrastructure resource shortfalls over 20 years. While todayâ??s hearing focuses on a specific example of this problem, I encourage all cities to heed the warning that has come to Washington, D.C., and make provisions to mitigate and respond to similar circumstances in your own communities.â??Crapo and Jeffords were successful in increasing available spending authority for water infrastructure in the Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Resolution. The amendment provided a combined $3 billion to the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, bringing the total budget authority for the two funds to $5.2 billion. The Budget Resolution is currently being considered by a conference committee. # # #