United Water Voices Support for Infrastructure Act

United Water on May 4 offered its support for the bipartisan Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2010 introduced earlier this week by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and cosponsors Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA). The bill will remove state volume caps on private activity bonds (PABs) for water and wastewater projects, freeing up billions of private capital dollars for investment in the nation’s water infrastructure. A similar bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) was passed by the House as part of the Small Business and Infrastructure Tax Act last month.

“The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2010 is perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation addressing our nation’s critical water needs,” said Bob Iacullo, president of United Water. “Most of our infrastructure assets are underground and out of view from the public’s eye. This bill from Senator Menendez, Senator Crapo and their colleagues brings our water infrastructure in line with other components of our country’s critical infrastructure such as bridges and roads, and it will also help us meet our current and future health and safety needs as they relate to the most critical of natural resources.”

Iacullo noted that other major infrastructure components such as airports, high-speed rail and solid waste disposal were already exempt from existing caps. PAB issuance is one of the fastest forms of federal assistance when applied to water and wastewater projects, with only 90–120 days needed to complete the process, from approval to sale to get Americans to work. Many small and local engineering and construction businesses will benefit from project opportunities that will arise from an increased availability of resources.

“I can tell you that United Water strongly endorses this bill and requests that the Senate take quick action and pass this important legislation,” said Iacullo. “This legislation has real benefits for consumers as it will translate into lower financing costs than taxable debt and the savings are passed on to our customers.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Government Accountability Office, there is an investment gap of more than $500 billion for necessary infrastructure upgrades over the next 20 years to ensure safe drinking water and wastewater treatment. This bill would create up to 57,000 jobs by converting a modest investment by the federal government into billions of dollars of necessary economic investment into our nation’s aging water and sewage infrastructure. Standard and Poor’s cites approximately $180 billion in new money available for infrastructure investment.

Providing opportunities for public water providers to leverage private sector investment in water and wastewater infrastructure, the bill will also generate significant tax revenue for states and communities across the country. Each $1 billion invested in water infrastructure yields an increase of $82.4 million in state and local tax revenue.

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