U.S.: WEF urges Congress to fund key water programmes

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has strongly urged Congress to continue federal investments in water infrastructure, geographic watershed and state grant programmes, water systems security, and water research programmes as it finalises its Fiscal Year 2018 spending bills.

The letter to Congress stated that support for these programmes is essential to safeguarding public health, protecting the environment, promoting economic growth, and ensuring community resiliency.

Along with WEF, the letter to Congress was co-signed by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, National Association Clean Water Agencies, United States (U.S.) Water Alliance, WateReuse, as well as the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.

“As WEF members and other water professionals work every day to ensure clean and reliable water in communities across America, it is vital that Congress provide the funding that supports their efforts,” Eileen O’Neill, WEF Executive Director, said. 

Core programs such as the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and the new Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA) programme provide funding for critical drinking water and wastewater projects. The letter calls for Congress to at least maintain funding for the SRFs at FY17 levels. Additionally, the letter states that the WIFIA program should be funded at the FY18 authorised level of US$45 million, which could be leveraged into upwards of US$4.5 billion in funding for water infrastructure projects.

The letter also urged Congress to:

  • Provide at least US$50 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program, which is the only federal program that provides funding specifically for water reuse projects
  • Maintain funding for geographic watershed protection programs, such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Initiative, and the grant programs that support state efforts to work with utilities on water quality
  • Maintain funding for the EPA Office of Water’s Water Security Division, which provides valuable resources and support for water agencies to help them prepare for a host of natural and man-made threats that potentially could disrupt or destroy water infrastructure
  • Maintain funding for water research and technology development programs coordinated among a variety of federal agencies, including the USEPA, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the Bureau of Reclamation. Continued research funding is critical to the quality of life for communities across the U.S., cost-effective infrastructure repair and replacement, and the business and economic advantages it gives the nation in the global marketplace