The House is today set to pass H.R. 2822, the Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016, containing $579 million in cuts to Clean Water State Revolving Fund levels. The fact that Congress is going to take one more step towards enacting these drastically lower SRF levels is terrible news for anyone who cares about safe, accessible, and clean water for all Americans. These cuts not only threaten Americans’ access to clean water, but kill jobs and stifle the economic growth that results when desperately needed water infrastructure projects are undertaken.
The SRF program provides critically needed financing for projects designed to improve the appalling condition of our nation’s water infrastructure. As we have reported before, leaking pipes and water main breaks resulting from infrastructure that is often nearly a century old wreak havoc on Americans’ lives on a daily basis. The costs – to the livelihoods of businesses forced to close, to the health and safety of families facing water shutoffs and “boil water” notices – are staggering. But water infrastructure projects are needed not only for our collective safety and health, but for the health of our economy. Expenditure of SRF funds creates construction and myriad related jobs, promoting economic growth in communities all over the country. Cutting these funds will do serious damage to local economies at a time when they care sorely afford it.
We at CWC are dismayed by this but rest assured that we will not be deterred. Our legislative staff will continue its fight against the cuts and in favor of alternatives to compensate for the lower SRF levels should they be enacted, including innovative financing techniques and public-private partnerships. We know that the health, safety and security of all Americans depend on access to clean water, and we will not let up on Congress until it understands that too.
Our fight to restore funding now moves to the Senate.