NACWA Testifies Before Congress as Key Clean Water Infrastructure Bill Introduced
Kishia Powell, NACWA Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NACWA Member Agency DC Water, testified Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) on the growing challenges facing water infrastructure and the need for increased federal investment.
Powell’s testimony highlighted the vital importance of a renewed federal partnership in helping communities reinvest in their aging water infrastructure AND better address growing, complex affordability and water quality challenges.
Among the key themes highlighted by both Democrat and Republican committee members throughout the hearing was the bipartisan understanding for increased federal investment. Notably, Senators from both parties highlighted the need to assist communities in more affordably upgrading their aging water infrastructure and building new infrastructure to meet increasing Clean Water Act requirements and environmental challenges. The importance of providing more support for the water workforce also emerged as a top area of agreement and focus.
This Senate hearing follows the recent House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee’s water infrastructure investment hearing, where NACWA Board Member OJ McFoy also testified on behalf of NACWA, and it further builds the case for strong federal investment in clean water infrastructure. It is important to note that NACWA was the only organization invited to testify in both hearings before the House and Senate.
Michael McNulty, General Manager of NACWA Member Agency the Morgantown West Virginia Utility Board, also testified during Wednesday’s Senate EPW hearing on behalf of the National Rural Water Association (NRWA). McNulty’s testimony highlighted many of the challenges that small and rural public water and clean water utilities are facing.
The recent Congressional hearings are critical steps needed to highlight the urgent need for greater federal investment as Congress begins to set its sights on advancing a comprehensive infrastructure and investment bill this year with potential major funding for water.
As part of that process, earlier this week the House T&I Committee officially introduced its bipartisan Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, which is expected to be the House’s legislative basis for inclusion of clean water in a comprehensive infrastructure bill.
The bill would reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and several other federal clean water programs at substantially increased funding levels. NACWA previously sent a letter of support for the bill to Congress, which highlighted the impact increased federal funding levels can have on the public clean water sector’s ability to more affordably meet clean water regulatory obligations while ensuring low-income households do not bear a disproportionate share of the cost.
The Senate EPW Committee is expected to release a similar but pared down clean water and drinking water infrastructure investment bill in the coming weeks. NACWA will continue to update members as details of these bills unfold.