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October 26, 2010

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Government Relations

Water Is Your Business Partnership Highlights the Relationship between Water Infrastructure, Business and the Economy

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) hosted a recent forum at the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce to discuss water infrastructure and local economic vitality.

"Sustainable, safe and reliable water service is the lifeblood of every community," said Michael Deane, the executive director of NAWC. "Working with and educating local business leaders is the first step to sparking a national dialogue on the value sustainable water systems have on businesses, communities and the economy."

The Oct. 11, 2010, event was the second in the "Water is Your Business" series, which was launched in July and is being sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NAWC. Speakers from the Texas Water Development Board, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, and the local business community discussed how innovative and sustainable water infrastructure practices can improve the economic competitiveness for businesses and the quality of life in local communities.

"The City of Irving and the Chamber continue to be aggressive in working to secure future water resources and infrastructure to support the growing North Texas region and its business community," said Chris E. Wallace, president and CEO of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce. "We are pleased to help facilitate this important discussion, and to call attention to an essential and irreplaceable resource."

The Water is Your Business series raises awareness of the significant economic and ecological impacts of water provision, use and disposal on communities everywhere. Each local discussion will focus on providing business and community leaders with the tools and resources needed to be constructive and influential participants in the dialogue on water infrastructure needs. The series is co-hosted by local area chambers of commerce.

"The Chamber recognizes that water infrastructure is a critical part of the physical platform of the U.S. economy," said Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Unfortunately, it is out of sight, out of mind, until a pipe breaks or supplies run low. We want to raise awareness of the needs and potential solutions, in particular the role of the private sector in delivering sustainable water systems."

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Congress Out for Election Recess

Congress has left Washington to spend time campaigning in advance of the Nov. 2, 2010, midterm elections.

Many NAWC members will be connecting with their Senators and Representatives during this time to talk about the local water solutions they are providing throughout the country. Some members will be offering facility tours to elected officials to showcase and answer questions about their state-of-the-art water-provision operations.

Elected leaders will be hearing a lot about the importance of maintaining the dividend and capital gains tax rates to ensure sustainable investment in water and other forms of capital. With dividend tax rates set to increase to a top rate of 39.6 percent without Congressional action, this is a major issue for the business community and the National Association of Water Companies.

Elected leaders will also continue to hear about the importance of Congress passing two important water bills, including the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2010, legislation that would remove funding restrictions on tax-exempt private activity bonds, and that is still awaiting passage in the Senate. This proposal’s low-cost and creative approach to tapping private capital for water infrastructure investment projects continues to be an appealing measure to encourage investment in water projects that would sustain jobs and create small business opportunities.

“The bill really is a win-win; each and every water project undertaken as a result of its ultimate passage will be vital to maintaining and protecting public health and the environment,” said Michael Deane, executive director of NAWC.

The industry is also awaiting Senate passage of the Water Infrastructure Financing Act. This legislation would improve upon the already successful State Revolving Loan Funds.
With continuing construction job deficits and an estimate of $300 billion needed to maintain our nation's safe, clean, and reliable water systems, many leaders recognize that the time to invest in infrastructure is now.


Mayors Water Council Meets to Discuss Challenges Facing the Nation’s Principal Cities and the Bay Area Delta Communities

Recently, U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council Co-Chairs Mayor Jennifer Hosterman of Pleasanton, Calif., and Mayor Brian U. Stratton of Schenectady, N.Y., gathered water-solution leaders, thought leaders, and local decision makers in Pleasanton, Calif., to discuss water supply, public health, and infrastructure challenges facing the nation’s principal cities and the Bay Area delta communities.

Erika Berlinghof, NAWC Director of Government Relations, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman (Pleasanton, Calif.), and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, (with an American Bald Eagle).

This dedicated and strong group of city leaders discussed the local issues that each mayor faces in their communities, and the solutions that they were pursuing to meet their diverse challenges.

Several NAWC members presented an array of creative and innovative solutions that have been successfully employed throughout California in partnership with local leaders and water agencies. Dennis Burrell from CH2M Hill featured a design-build-operate plan that was utilized to secure the Clovis community’s water supply. Bob Ashfield from United Water showcased a cutting-edge recycling and reuse project that was undertaken in partnership with the West Basin Municipal Water District in El Segundo, Calif.



Many Water Solutions Featured at International County/City Managers Association Conference

NAWC, along with other leading water service solutions providers, including Severn Trent, American Water, United Water, Veolia Water North America, and CH2M HILL, participated in dialogues with city managers at the ICMA Annual Conference. At a time when fiscal crises burden many city and county leaders, NAWC members offered optimistic solutions for moving water forward.

City Managers are inherently strong leaders and fiscally responsible professionals who must find creative ways to meet multiple obligations to the public. They appreciate the need to identify long-term savings rather than quick political fixes, as well as the importance of employing experts to solve vexing and multi-faceted problems.

We know that local leaders have a lot on their minds when it comes to water. In fact, ICMA President David Childs, who is also the assistant county manager of Washoe County, Nev., is tackling a water-regionalization issue under his jurisdiction. As a network of water professionals, NAWC is eager to be a part of a network of city management professionals, and to have the opportunity to learn from each other.


Nominations Open for NDWAC

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently seeking nominations for the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC). According to the Oct. 6 Federal Register notice, the nominees for the 2011 NDWAC should represent: state and local officials concerned with public water supply and public health protection (two vacancies); the general public (one vacancy); and organizations or groups demonstrating an active interest in the field of public water supply and public health protection (two vacancies). Nominations are due Oct. 31, 2010.

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