WASHINGTON – Today Congresswoman Cheri Bustos participated in a press conference to introduce the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act of 2016. This bill would provide critical federal funding for State Revolving Funds, including the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund which is the source of the $4 million forgivable loan the city of Galesburg is set to receive to replace lead service lines.
“Fixing America’s aging water infrastructure needs to be a top priority because there’s nothing more important than protecting our children,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “While I was very proud that we were able to secure $4 million in forgivable loans to replace lead service lines in Galesburg, this is a problem that affects far too many of our communities, especially small and rural towns with tight budgets and fewer resources to invest in their water infrastructure. By passing the WATER Act, we’ll help create thousands of good jobs in cities across our nation while modernizing our infrastructure to reduce lead exposure from water.”
The WATER Act provides funding for the existing SRF programs by eliminating the deferral U.S. multinational corporations currently enjoy on paying domestic tax on overseas income. By taxing these overseas revenues in the year they are earned, we can raise more than $60 billion a year to fund repairs, maintenance, and improvement of our nation’s water infrastructure. This investment will also create tens of thousands of jobs across the United States. According to the Clean Water Council, every $1 billion spent on water infrastructure creates between 20,000 and nearly 27,000 jobs across the economy.
In addition to providing a permanent, dedicated source of funding for the SRFs, the WATER Act will also:
- provide SRF funding for grants to owners of private service lines for replacement of lead service lines;
- create a new grant program to fund public schools’ testing and replacement of drinking water infrastructure due to lead;
- increase technical assistance to rural and small municipalities and tribal governments;
- require EPA to coordinate a study about water affordability, discrimination and civil rights violations by water and sewer providers, public participation in water regionalization efforts, and water shutoffs;
- create a new grant program for the repair, replacement or upgrading of septic tanks and drainage fields
- limit Drinking Water SRF funding to publicly owned, operated and managed utilities; and,
- increase funding for grants to tribal governments for drinking water infrastructure.