Last week we wrote about the drastic cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program contained in the House’s and Senate’s proposed fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills for the EPA. As we discussed, both bills call for radical cuts to the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs; the House bill calls for a 30% cut in Clean Water SRF funding from current levels and a 16% in Drinking Water SRF funding, and the Senate bill provides for cuts of 28% in Clean Water SRF funding and 14% in Drinking Water SRF funding.
These huge cuts would come at a time when we as a nation need spending on water infrastructure more than ever. We at CWC have covered extensively the enormous human costs of our federal government continuing to ignore the critical need for more money targeted to water infrastructure projects, and these cuts are yet another dramatic example of Congress’s terribly shortsighted approach. We have written about the trillions of gallons of water lost in the U.S. each year because of leaky pipes and broken water mains that are often more than a century old, and we have pointed out the constant disruptions to Americans’ daily lives – businesses forced to shut down, schools forced to close, families forced to boil water before using or drinking it – that result. Failures in drinking water infrastructure result in water service interruptions, impediments to emergency response, and damage to other types of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. The costs are incalculable. Sadly, we can expect all of these kinds of disruptions to occur more frequently and with greater severity if the SRF funding is not restored.
The Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs are the biggest and most important component of federal government support for local communities’ efforts to provide safe and clean water to all Americans. They are the only water infrastructure financing programs providing low-cost loans to any size community to help meet obligations under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The last thing Congress should be doing to them now – when we already face challenges from aging and decrepit water infrastructure on a massive scale – is putting them on the chopping block! We at CWC will be lobbying hard for Congress to restore the funds proposed to be cut, keeping the welfare, safety, and good health of all Americans in mind.