WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) announced she has helped introduce bipartisan legislation to provide states and municipalities with greater flexibility to manage their wastewater and stormwater systems and improve their infrastructure long-term. The bill, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, mirrors companion Senate legislation introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE). Joining Bustos in introducing this bill are Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Congressman David Joyce (R-OH), Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).
“Every $1 invested in infrastructure generates about $2 worth of new economic activity. Communities throughout the heartland are working to improve their water infrastructure and keep families safe, and this bill would help ensure the EPA is working with them toward that goal,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “By making common sense changes to improve the way water infrastructure investments are made, we can give communities the tools they need to spur new economic development opportunities, create good-paying jobs and improve communities across the heartland.”
“This legislation will provide additional tools and flexibility for communities to comply with mandated wastewater infrastructure improvement projects” said Congressman Latta. “With more than $21 billion worth of water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure needs in Ohio, it’s critical to provide communities with the ability to meet their obligations in a more cost-effective manner. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in both chambers to ensure that this bipartisan bill reaches the President’s desk in order to help improve our nation’s water infrastructure and protect ratepayers.”
“Improving our water and wastewaster infrastructure is key to providing clean drinking water for the constituents in the 11th Congressional District. Yet, some municipalities and utilities do not have the flexibility to make improvements in a green, cost-effective, and innovative manner, driving up costs for families and slowing down much needed improvements.” said Congresswoman Fudge. “That’s why I am pleased to join Congressman Latta in introducing the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act to help solve this problem, reduce costs, and increase access to one of our most vital natural resources – clean water.”
“As local communities struggle to fix aging water infrastructure and comply with federal mandates, we need to give them more flexibility and options, so they can accomplish the task without increasing the burden on local ratepayers,” said Congressman Joyce. “This bill does that, and I am proud to work with my colleagues to move it through the process.”
“This critical legislation will give our cities and storm water agencies additional time, resources, and financial flexibility, to address the unique watershed system needs in each storm water permit area,” said Congresswoman Napolitano. “It will particularly benefit cities in Los Angeles County, including those in my San Gabriel Valley-based district, by giving them regulatory assistance in managing the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit from the State Regional Water Quality Control Board.”
“We all want to maintain the safe and clean environment we enjoy in the 16th District,” said Congressman Smucker. “I have a record of supporting clean water initiatives in the Pennsylvania State Senate, and I am continuing that record in the U.S. House. But we need a commonsense regulatory approach that is more collaborative than punitive. This bill is one way we can help ensure we are providing clean, safe water to our communities without putting an unnecessary burden on local governments and the taxpayers that support them.”
Under the Clean Water Act, municipalities on average are spending nearly 7% of their tax dollars on water and sewer systems. Even with that amount of taxpayer money, there is a need for approximately $300 billion for clean water infrastructure investments nationally. Many ratepayers are also seeing sewer rates increase at a rapid pace compared to inflation.