(April 10, 2019) – The 2019 National Water Policy Fly-In set a record for attendance and participation last week as more than 320+ participants—most traveling to Washington, DC from other regions across the country—taking to Capitol Hill, and conducting hundreds of consequential face-to-face meetings with lawmakers and staffers in many congressional offices. The event served as an excellent anchor piece for Water Week 2019.
As described by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), one of several congressional speakers, the Fly-In meetings (convened April 3 through 4) and Water Week have become, and will continue to be, “absolutely crucial to galvanizing lawmakers” to pay attention to, and act on, clean water advocacy priorities.
Fly-In participants visited many congressional offices and were strategically unified in asking for increased investment on a range of key water sector programs including the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), the Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA), and the National Water Research Grant Program, among others. The full list of “asks” are outlined in the event’s “leave-behind” document, the Water Week One-Pager.
After a kickoff plenary session with EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, David Ross as speaker (see related story), “interpersonal advocacy” were the watch words of the event proceedings, as more informal roundtables and breakout discussion sessions were held—in addition to the face-to-face meetings on the Hill—providing participants with a unique opportunity to interface and interact with the officials and lawmakers that are impacting clean water utilities through public policy.
A presentation on “EPA’s Water Priorities” allowed participants to listen as EPA officials discussed their plans for the coming year. Federal agency breakout discussions then followed and covered topics such as “Water Infrastructure Funding, Water Finance, WIFIA and Affordability;” “CSOs and Post-LTCP Compliance, SSOs and Peak Flow Management;” “PFAS and Other CWA/SDWA Intersection Issues;” “Integrated Planning, Stormwater and Green Infrastructure;” and more (full list of discussion topics available in detailed agenda).
Participants interacted with congressional members and staffers at the “Congressional Breakfast” and “Joint Water Week Congressional Briefing.” The Hon. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee; and the Hon. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Member of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, of the US Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, were on hand to champion water infrastructure legislation and funding programs, and to re-emphasize their commitment to supporting Clean Water and to working as partners to advance Clean Water priorities.
Participants were also able to network, as well as celebrate advocacy gains at the “Congressional Reception,” where the Hon. Tom Carper (D-DE), Ranking Member of the US Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, encouraged all attendees to continue their personal advocacy for Clean Water on the all-important local level.
“It does make a difference!” proclaimed Carper. “You worked with us in order to pass legislation earlier this year—the House, the Senate and the Administration. We need your help again. There is no life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without water.”
NACWA thanks its Fly-In partners the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association for their collaboration. NACWA also thanks all of the participants and sponsors of the Fly-In and Water Week – we look forward to an even bigger and better event next year!