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NUCA Reps Irked By Lack of Federal Funding for Wastewater Infrastructure

Fri May 26, 2006 - National Edition
CEG



The National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) is very disappointed in the funding levels for wastewater infrastructure improvements included in the FY2007 spending package passed by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

The subcommittee has once again matched the amount included in the White House budget proposal — this year a grossly inadequate $688 million. NUCA will continue to fight to restore funding to the $1.35 billion funding level that was appropriated for many years.

Since taking office, the Bush Administration has chosen to ignore the findings of its own Environmental Protection Agency needs estimates and has proposed cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program year after year.

From 1996 to 2004, the Clean Water SRF received at least $1.35 billion annually in federal appropriations. Since then, however, the administration and Congress have twice cut the already inadequate resources that the federal government has provided to refurbish the nation’s wastewater infrastructure, and they are looking to do it again. To make matters worse, the administration’s budget proposes to cut off all federal funding in 2011.

“The subcommittee has once again turned its back on clean water even as documented national infrastructure needs continue to mount,” said Bill Hillman, NUCA CEO.

“There is not reason or excuse for slashing the funding of a highly-effective environmental investment program that protects public health, creates American jobs and increases the tax base — especially in a year when federal outlays are estimated to be $2.77 trillion. Our spending priorities are clearly messed up.”

NUCA President Jim Stutler recently commented on what NUCA is doing to straighten out those priorities.

“NUCA will continue to lead the underground construction industry as we do what we have to restore the traditional funding levels and rebuild this essential infrastructure,” said Stutler.

“NUCA and the Clean Water Council are going to go ’outside the beltway’ to show the American people that they must play a role in this debate. We cannot afford this continuing neglect of our water and wastewater systems.”

NUCA serves as chair of the Clean Water Council (CWC), a coalition of approximately 25 national construction organizations working to increase water infrastructure funding. The CWC recently launched the “Americans for Pure Water” public relations campaign, which is designed to educate American citizens about the serious ramifications of failing water infrastructure.

“The EPA estimates that America has documented wastewater infrastructure needs well in excess of $181 billion, and that water/wastewater needs will exceed $534 billion within 15 years if federal funding is not increased,” said Eben Wyman, NUCA’s vice president of Government Relations.

“The Americans for Pure Water campaign is based on the premise that once the nation’s citizens awaken to the fact that the federal government is not doing its part to rebuild this essential but deteriorating infrastructure, they will demand that their government begin to address this mounting environmental crisis.”