February 03, 2005

Crapo Water Bill Clears Committee

Idaho communities to gain millions more in infrastructure assistance

Washington, DC â?? Legislation authored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo that would provide assistance to water and wastewater systems throughout the United States has cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. S. 2550, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, deals with the central problem that most clean water systems in the country haveâ??that of crumbling infrastructure with growing upgrade costs. The measure will provide authorized spending for water and wastewater infrastructure programs of $35 billion over the next five years. Crapo chairs the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, which maintains jurisdiction over water infrastructure issues.The Water Infrastructure Financing Act is the major authorizing bill for federally funded water system programs. It includes the State Revolving Funds, which are the primary means of financing drinking water systems and treatment of wastewater throughout the country.â??Presently Congress appropriates $1.35 billion a year for wastewater infrastructure improvements and $850 million for drinking water assistance programs, but some estimate the needs actually run into the hundreds of billions of dollars,â?? Crapo explained. â??There is obviously a gap in what we are spending to keep our water and wastewater systems operating efficiently and effectively and what needs to be spent to keep our communities safe and our water clean. There is also a large gap between what states receive, with some receiving tens of millions and others hundreds of millions of dollars each year for improvements. Crapo continued, â??For example, Idaho and other states receive less than $10 million each year for wastewater system improvement. Thatâ??s less than what many new water treatment plants cost. Idaho has many communities in dire need of assistance, and this legislation will provide the state with millions more in the State Revolving Funds. This means communities like Castleford, Pocatello, Clearwater Valley, Burley and Spirit Lake that are now struggling with water and wastewater difficulties will be eligible for additional funds to assist in upgrading water and wastewater treatment systems. â??Under the present allocation, smaller states have traditionally received negligible amounts of assistance and they need to receive more,â?? Crapo concluded. â??Our challenge is to do so while remaining within current fiscal restraints. As we have worked through this dilemma, we have set up a formula that sets us on a path that will allow states the needed funds to begin improvements without taking away any funds from states receiving larger allocations. The measure passed by the EPW Committee today meets that challenge and will help us move along in ensuring that our communities have safe and clean water available.â??The measure will now be referred to the full Senate for consideration.# # #