PHILADELPHIA (July 23, 2021) – US Representatives Garamendi (D-CA-03) and Bost (R-IL-12) introduced the Clean Water SRF Parity Act (H.R. 4597) on Thursday. This legislation would amend eligibility provisions for the Federal Water Pollution Control Act’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (clean water SRF), so that all wastewater customers have the ability to benefit from the program’s low-interest loans.
The clean water SRF program provides the financial support utilities need to be able to invest adequately in infrastructure, while promoting affordability for customers through offering low-interest loans and grants to wastewater service providers. Currently, state officials administering the SRF programs can only provide low-interest loans and grants to publicly owned wastewater systems.
Limiting eligibility for these funds to public providers ultimately limits the impact of this taxpayer-funded program to only benefit taxpayers served by public wastewater systems, leaving out tens of millions of Americans served by regulated water utilities. Changing the eligibility rules would allow the state officials administering clean water SRF programs to invest dollars where they will do the most good, regardless of the system’s ownership structure. Further, the Clean Water SRF Parity Act only expands eligibility for dollars allocated to the program over and above current funding levels, ensuring that this expanded access would not reduce investment levels in publicly owned systems.
“By introducing the Clean Water SRF Parity Act, Reps. Garamendi and Bost are taking a stand to ensure every customer—regardless of whether their wastewater services provider is public or private—has equal access to safe, reliable and affordable wastewater services,” said NAWC President and CEO, Robert F. Powelson. “The current structure of the clean water SRF program is fundamentally unfair and discriminates against customers whose wastewater services are provided by investor-owned utilities, despite the fact that their taxes help fund the program. I’m grateful for the Representatives’ leadership on this bill which is a critical step in advancing water equity across the country.”
“Millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Californian households are served by investor-owned utilities. Congress currently provides low-interest financing to these utilities for drinking water, and it should provide the same to improve affordable, efficient sewer and wastewater treatment,” said US Rep. Garamendi. “Our bipartisan ‘Clean Water SRF Parity Act’ will make low-interest financing available to modernize wastewater infrastructure systems in every American community regardless of their sewer or wastewater utility provider.”
“Ensuring that our communities have up-to-date wastewater infrastructure systems is vitally important to our public health and safety,” said US Rep. Bost. “I’m proud to help introduce the bipartisan Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Parity Act today to expand access to low interest SRF loans to the companies that provide this important service to many of our Southern Illinois communities.”
“Expanding access takes on even more importance as communities look to jumpstart the economy and create jobs by increasing infrastructure spending,” said James Slevin, President of the Utility Workers Union of America.
“This legislation levels the playing field for all residents serviced by municipalities or companies [and] allows states to invest money where they believe communities will benefit most,” said Godfrey, Illinois Mayor Mike McCormick. “Investing in infrastructure strengthens communities, which is good for residents and businesses.”
For more on H.R. 4597, visit www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4597?s=2&r=1.