Industry, local government and EPA urge for $1 trillion funding for water infrastructure.

A coalition of local government and industry groups and at least one official with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are calling for as much as $1 trillion in federal aid for repairing 50-year-old water and sewer pipes across the country.

On 13 February, a coalition of 30 organizations, known as the Water Infrastructure Network, will be joining a number of congressional leadersin calling for the implementation of a $500 billion water repair bill for capital expenditures, as well as releasing a list of recommendations, including a program for clean and safe water technology and innovation.

A move is underway in Congress to push for more federal funding to close an estimated $23-billion-a-year gap in funding for deteriorating water and wastewater systems.

US Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-OH, is sponsoring the Clean Water Infrastructure Financing Act, which would provide $3 billion per year for five years in grants to states that then would offer low-interest loans to local communities to repair and upgrade existing wastewater treatment facilities. In addition, the bill would provide technical and planning assistance for small water systems, expand the types of projects eligible for loan assistance, offering financially distressed communities extended loan repayment periods and principal subsidies.

“Protecting our water supply is vital to making sure we have clean drinking water, viable habitat for wildlife and safe water for recreation,” said Voinovich. “Our local communities are doing a great job with the assistance they’ve been provided, but, frankly, they need more to comply with tougher environmental regulations.”

The EPA’s new administration is reviewing a plan “to close a forecasted gap of approximately $1 trillion in total spending in capital, maintenance and operations of water and wastewater systems between 2010 and 2020 in an effort to meet current mandates,” said Steve Allbee, project director of gap analysis with the EPA. “This spending is called for to operate and maintain, repair and renew the current systems, retire existing debt and make essential high priority new service investments.”

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