Senate Rejects Deep Clean Water Funding Cuts; Restores $500 Million to Va-Hud Spending Bill
WASHINGTON (September 21, 2004) -- Today the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to add nearly a half-billion dollars to the VA-HUD spending bill, restoring a cut in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) proposed by the White House and approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
"Fortunately, the Senate understands the importance of clean water for all Americans. Restoring federal funding for this popular and effective program is a win for the environment, the economy and public health," said Wesley Warren, NRDC's Deputy Director for Advocacy. "Now it's time for the House to prove its commitment to ensuring clean water, healthy communities and jobs."
The Clean Water SRF is America's largest water quality financing source. Over the past 16 years this program has dispersed more than 14,200 loans -- some $47 billion in all -- to communities large and small to rehabilitate aging sewer plants, minimize raw sewage overflows and reduce stormwater runoff. This year's federal budget proposal slashed state and local funding by almost $500 million -- a 37 percent reduction from last year. Despite the program's popularity and success, the House Appropriations Committee failed to restore Clean Water SRF funding when it passed the VA-HUD spending bill in July.
NRDC and a coalition of state and local governments, labor, construction, environmental and public health groups warned that such a funding decrease could lead to more sewer overflows, polluted water, disease outbreaks and a loss of nearly 50,000 jobs.
Last week, the coalition released a report, All Dried Up: How Clean Water is Threatened by Budget Cuts, that highlights the impacts of significant proposed reductions in funding for the Clean Water SRF. Specifically, the report details how much federal assistance each state stands to lose, how many jobs the lost funding would have created, how many water improvement projects may be held up or scrapped, and the scope of water pollution nationwide.