May 14, 2009

Crapo Water Fund Bill Approved In Committee

Establishes new money for water and wastewater improvements

Washington, DC - Legislation to reauthorize critical new assistance for local water and wastewater improvements today won approval before a Senate committee. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo co-sponsored and voted in favor of S. 1005, The Water Infrastructure Financing Act. The legislation was approved by a vote of 17 to 2.

The bipartisan legislation authorizes nearly $35 billion in new federal assistance and makes reforms for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which are critical programs that assist states and local communities with clean water, sewer, storm water management, water conservation and recycling programs. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) had not been reauthorized in 22 years; the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund had not been reauthorized in 13 years.

"We in Idaho know the critical need to upgrade our water infrastructure and that the federal government should be a partner in that effort," Crapo said. "The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that, as a nation, we may face a $300 million backlog in the need to improve our drinking water and wastewater systems. This legislation targets rural communities and partners well with my past Project SEARCH legislation that offered those communities legal assistance with complying with federal water standards."

Crapo attended a news conference following the Committee vote today with Committee Chair Barbara Boxer and other Committee members. He noted the strong bipartisan support of Committee leadership would help the bill's chances before the full Senate. A similar bill that lacks drinking water authorization has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.


Highlights of the Water Infrastructure Financing Act

• Increases the Clean Water SRF to $20 billion over five years and Drinking Water SRF to $14.7 billion over five years.
• $1.85 billion nationwide grant program to address combined sewer overflows
• $60 million/year nationwide grant program to provide funding to states and municipalities to reduce lead in drinking water
• $50 million nationwide grant program to address agriculture-related water quality issues
• New incentives, including for green infrastructure projects
• Additional flexibility in the Clean Water SRF to help low-income communities
• New Research and voluntary incentive program to address water conservation, efficiency, and recycling.