Environmental Protection

Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund Act Introduced

Last week, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced the Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund Act of 2013. It would provide a protected source of revenue to help states replace, repair, and rehabilitate critical wastewater treatment facilities.

While it would take over $9.3 billion a year to maintain a clean water infrastructure, funding for that purpose has averaged just over $1.25 billion per year since 2000. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the U.S. wastewater infrastructure a grade of D in its most recent report card, and American communities suffered more than 310,000 water main breaks in the past year alone, with overflowing combined sewer systems causing contamination, property damage, disruptions in the water supply, and massive traffic jams.

"Day by day and year by year, our water infrastructure falls apart," said Blumenauer. "This bill allows responsible businesses who are dependent on clean water and effective sewage to voluntarily contribute to rebuild and renew the system. Over the long term, the bill will save consumers and local governments millions of dollars while helping maintain and rebuild our clean water system."

Businesses could choose to place a small label on their products indicating their commitment to protecting clean water, according to his news release. For each unit that displayed such a label, companies would contribute 3 cents to the Water Trust Fund. Most of these funds will be distributed as grants and loans through the existing Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to provide loans to publicly owned treatment works for wastewater treatment construction. Twenty percent of the funds will support an innovative financing program based on the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

"Everyone cares about clean water, but the reality is that the system to protect and maintain water isn't free," Blumenauer added. "This bill doesn't cost the taxpayers a cent and yet allows businesses and the public to enjoy the benefits of a modern and fully functional water infrastructure system. It's a straightforward solution to the problem, and passing it swiftly into law would be a good way to show the American people we can move forward on bills that benefit everyone."

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