On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” about the importance of long-term, strategic investment in America’s water resources systems. Kristina Swallow, President of ASCE, testified before the Committee along with four other champions of water infrastructure: Pat Riley, Advisory Committee Member with the Family Farm Alliance; Dennis Sternberg, Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association; The Honorable Jeffrey Bullock, Delaware Secretary of State; and Tony Pratt, President of the American Short and Beach Preservation Association.
Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced the bill, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which was co-sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE.), James Inhofe (R-OK.), and Ben Cardin (D-MD). Sen. Barrasso spoke about the importance of up-to-date water infrastructure, noting that investment in water resources infrastructure is critical to keeping both urban and rural America prosperous, safe, and healthy.
Swallow’s testimony echoed the Chairman’s concerns about America’s economy and safety, citing the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card and ASCE’s Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future. She also emphasized ASCE’s support for many of the provisions in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, including the reauthorization of the National Dam Safety Program, the National Levee Safety Program, and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Swallow also provided a few recommendations, most notably she recommended that the Committee consider including S. 2364, the Securing Required Funds for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act into the WRDA 2018 bill, to help alleviate our nation’s water resources infrastructure investment deficit.
Following their testimonies, the panel fielded questions about stormwater and wastewater, the SRF WIN act, resiliency, and green infrastructure.
Water infrastructure is important to every region in America. It is the foundation of our economy and is critical to our health and welfare. Our water resources infrastructure systems – levees, dams, inland waterways, and ports – protect hundreds of communities, transport goods, support millions of American jobs and generate trillions of dollars of economic activity. Our nation must prioritize investment needs of our water resources systems through strategic, robust, and sustained investments, long term reliable federal funding and the utilization of financing mechanisms. It’s time that we update our aging water resource systems and prepare for the future.