Funding for Clean Water Passes in the House

Money will allow cities and towns to keep sewage and contaminated stormwater out of rivers
WASHINGTON (March 9, 2007) – Three bills vital to protecting our nation’s waters and ensuring healthy communities on the banks of U.S. rivers and lakes were considered by the U.S. House of Representatives this week, according to clean water policy experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“Cities across the United States suffer from sewage overflows, fish with cancerous tumors, polluted drinking water supplies, contaminated shellfish beds, and beachwaters contaminated with human and animal waste, all because the federal government has fallen down on its obligation to provide clean and safe water supplies for its citizens,” said Nancy Stoner, director of the Clean Water Project at NRDC. “If fully funded, these two bills will put the country back on track in addressing some of the largest sources of water pollution that threaten our lakes, streams and coastal waters.”
The bills, the Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 (HR 720), the Healthy Communities Water Supply Act of 2007 (HR 700), and the Water Quality Investment Act (HR 569), authorize nearly $16 billion over four years for clean water infrastructure. Such projects include rebuilding wastewater systems in communities where, in the case of heavy rains, sewers overflow into rivers and streams. In communities incapable of funding new systems, not only does the health of their citizens suffer, but also the well being of those living downstream.
H.R. 720, which the House plans to vote on today, would:
  • Reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund at $14 billion from fiscal year 2008-2011.
  • Authorize a study on potential funding mechanisms and resources available to establish a clean water trust fund
H.R. 569, which passed in the House yesterday, would:
  • Authorize $1.8 billion in grants to address sewer overflows and other wet weather issues.
H.R. 700, which also passed in the House yesterday, would:
  • amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to increase the amount of authorized appropriations for the pilot program for alternative water source projects.
All three bills are opposed by the Bush administration, which supports phasing-out federal funding for clean water projects. “Everyone says that they support clean water, but when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, the Bush administration falls flat,” Stoner said.
The Senate is expected to hold hearings and introduce its own bills later this year.