House Committee Pushes Water Quality Investment Act

In a full committee mark-up session, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved on March 5 a key bill authorizing $18.7 billion in new investment to the nation's clean water infrastructure.

The committee approved H.R. 1262, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009' this bill is similar to legislation that passed the House in the 110th Congress.

The committee also approved its budget Views and Estimates for Fiscal Year 2010. The Committee provides views and estimates on budgetary issues for programs under its jurisdiction to the House Committee on the Budget each year to help guide the development of the year's budget resolution.

Full Committee Chair James L. Oberstar (Minn.), said, "The bills we approved today take us another step toward creating jobs and strengthening the economy through federal investment in public infrastructure."

The Water Quality Investment Act provides authorizes $13.8 billion in federal grants over five years to capitalize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and provide low-interest loans to communities for wastewater infrastructure. It also reauthorizes $250 million in grants over five years for alternative water source projects and authorizes $1.8 billion over five years in grants to municipalities and states to control sewer overflows. It amends the Clean Water Act to provide a national standard for public notification of overflows, and increases the authorization of appropriations to $150 million for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

Finally, the bill increases the authorized funding levels for the cleanup of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes, which was enacted into law in 2008 with funding levels below the House-passed version of the bill.

The Views and Estimates statement lays out the committee's position on the budget proposed recently by the Obama Administration. It calls for the committee's priorities to be fully funded. These include selected provisions of the Clean Water Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); reauthorization of the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and consideration of a water resources development act.