NACWA Testifies Before Senate on Clean Water Funding Needs
NACWA Vice President Tom Sigmund, Executive Director of NEW Water in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and NACWA Board Member Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), testified in-person March 16 before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee during a bipartisan hearing entitled Oversight of the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund Formula.
The focus of the hearing centered around congressional interest in updating the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) state allotment formula to reflect the growing population shifts in certain states, as well as some recent legislative proposals to update the formula in a manner that uses population as the key measure for increased allocations to certain states.
Sigmund, testifying on behalf of NACWA, and Dreyfuss-Wells, testifying on behalf of NEORSD, highlighted the critical role of the CWSRF in helping communities finance clean water infrastructure projects and meet increasing compliance obligations, while also helping to keep rates affordable for their customers. They also expressed the importance of increased CWSRF investment, especially to assist older communities like Green Bay and Cleveland.
The current CWSRF formula allotment was established along with the creation of the CWSRF program in 1987 under the Clean Water Act (CWA), and state allocations have not been updated since. It is unclear exactly how the weighting and factors that were used to establish the original CWSRF formula for the allotment were selected in 1987.
Both Sigmund and Dreyfuss-Wells recognized the need for updating the CWSRF allotment formula, but also stressed that any updates must be done in a manner that not only takes population into account but also strongly considers clean water needs based on an updated EPA Clean Watershed Needs Survey. They also noted that no state should experience a reduction in overall SRF funding, especially given the aging infrastructure, population declines and affordability challenges in many areas of the country that can least afford to see a reduction in federal assistance.
It was evident during the hearing that many Senators have reservations about a change to the SRF formula that is based only on population, and most agreed that underlying clean water investment needs must be a critical factor in any changes going forward. While no specific action was promised during the hearing, Senators from both parties indicated a desire to continue the discussion in the future.
NACWA will continue working to ensure that any legislative efforts by Congress to update and adjust the CWSRF formula is done in a manner that ensures it continues to benefit all NACWA public utility members. For further information or questions on the hearing, please contact NACWA’s legislative team.