The Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing last Tuesday on S. 692, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). The bill addresses affordability concerns by municipalities over compliance obligations under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Among other things, the legislation would codify EPA’s Integrated Planning Framework, require EPA to integrated green infrastructure approaches throughout its CWA compliance programs, and require EPA to revise its 1997 Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Financial Capability Guidance document.
Testifying in support of the legislation was Mayor Richard Gray of Lancaster, PA, (Lancaster Public Works is a NACWA member utility), who discussed affordability challenges related to the city’s CSO [combined sewer overflow]control program, as well as the extensive green infrastructure program the city is implementing in order to reduce costs. The Senate EPW Committee is scheduled to report out the bill on April 5.
NACWA is a strong supporter of the bill, which mirrors language in the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) package from last year, and will continue to track the legislation’s progress as it moves forward.