Public Water Utilities Warn Congress: Historic Cuts to Clean Water State Revolving Fund will Derail Water Infrastructure Projects Across the Country
Todd Swingle, Executive Director of Toho Water Authority in Kissimmee, FL Testifies to U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
WASHINGTON, D.C. AND ORLANDO, FL – Just hours in advance of an expected shutdown of the federal government, public water utility executives from Florida, joined by business and environmental experts from across the country, painted a dire picture of the impact that deep cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF) will have on local infrastructure projects across the country.
Todd Swingle, Executive Director of Toho Water Authority in Kissimmee, Florida testified to lawmakers in Congress on behalf of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, regarding the benefits of SRF investments to local water authorities in Florida. He also highlighted the rising financial and operational challenges experienced by clean water utilities – including emerging chemical clean-up and remediation expenses – expected to inflate costs and delay water infrastructure development.
For hearing details visit: https://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=406870.
Nationwide, SRF investments fund projects to treat wastewater to higher standards, improve energy efficiency and lower emissions, and address growing climate challenges including extreme weather and system resiliency. Experts providing testimony today to the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment said that the historic cuts to the CWSRF proposed in the House’s FY2024 budget would make it impossible to sustain local water infrastructure projects designed to meet these objectives.
Swingle testified: “Since the establishment of the CWSRF under the 1987 CWA amendments, Congress has appropriated over $50 billion in federal investment collectively to the state CWSRFs, who in turn have provided over $160 billion to local communities.
“These low-interest loans, and in some cases grants through additional subsidization provisions, provided under the CWSRF have remained the primary federal clean water financing tool that public clean water utilities have used to help their local communities more affordably meet their CWA compliance obligations and upgrade their aging treatment plants and critical infrastructure. The low-interest rates offered by the CWSRF can be particularly helpful, especially during times such as these when interest rates for other borrowing options are elevated.
“In Florida and across the country, SRF investments have helped fund projects to treat wastewater to higher standards, improve energy efficiency and lower emissions, capture and reuse biogas, reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loading and address wet weather and resiliency challenges, among many other types of projects.
“With all due respect to the Committee, the current investments in the CWSRF proposed in the House’s FY2024 budget are not adequate to achieve these goals. It is imperative that Congress fully appropriate the CWSRF at the amounts authorized under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
Swingle continued: “At the top of the current list of challenges, public clean water utilities are extremely concerned about the potential health and environmental risks associated with exposure to PFAS. PFAS remediation must be paid for by the polluters – those who manufactured and profited from this ubiquitous chemical. The innocent water or wastewater treatment utility ratepayers who had no part in creating or profiting from PFAS must not in any way be left holding the bill to deal with PFAS. There is a role for utilities to appropriately play in the removal of PFAS under the CWA based on a science-based regulatory processes, but it is the actual polluters who alone must be held liable.”
On August 21, 2023, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies joined a sign-on letter with 17 other leading water associations, representing the water sector at large, to urge Congress to fund the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds to the maximum authorization in federal law, $3 billion each, for fiscal year 2024.
For over 50 years, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has been the nation’s recognized leader in legislative, regulatory, legal and communications advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide.
CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell to receive a full transcript of Todd Swingle’s testimony on CWSRF water infrastructure funding or to arrange interviews with other Florida water utility experts, and other leading members or policy experts from NACWA, at firstname.lastname@example.org.