September 23, 2013
Washington, D.C. - Nevada Senator Harry Reid joined Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee in introducing legislation last week – the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act of 2013, S. 1508 – to help local communities meet the challenges of upgrading aging water infrastructure systems to better handle extreme weather, droughts, and floods.
Our nation’s water and wastewater systems are facing the challenge of adapting their operations to changing hydrological conditions. The impacts of these changing patterns are expected to lead to severe drought in some regions of the country, more intense rainfall and flooding in others, and degraded water quality in many communities. The Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act provides funds for communities to equip their water infrastructure to cope with these new conditions. The bill directs the EPA to establish a Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability program. Grants will be awarded to eligible water systems to make the necessary upgrades. Communities across the country will be able to compete for federal matching funds, which in turn will help finance projects to help communities overcome these ecological threats.
“Years ago, when I was asked by a reporter what I thought was the biggest challenge facing Nevada, I said water,” said Senator Reid. “Nevada understands and has experienced the challenges that long-term drought brings. In Southern Nevada, Lake Mead is at risk of dropping to a dangerously low elevation. This bill would provide for much needed funding opportunities to help adapt to the impacts that climate change and extreme weather have on our nation’s water infrastructure.”
"Our existing water infrastructure is crumbling due to age and having to cope with more volatile and extreme weather patterns. The truth is that we are in a crisis that can be averted. There is no need to lose revenue from disrupted business and flooded streets. Our water infrastructure may be buried and out of sight and out of mind; but today we must elevate these systems to the priority level they deserve. The longer we put off dealing with this crisis, the more expensive the solution will be," said Senator Cardin. “Our aging water infrastructure system represents a clear and present danger to public health, as well as our economic security and therefore our national security.”
Senator Boxer said: “The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy last year placed a spotlight on the need to help communities better prepare for and reduce the risks of extreme weather-related disasters. S. 1508 will help strengthen our aging water infrastructure and to protect against severe flooding and prolonged drought.”
A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that by 2020, the forecasted deficit for sustaining water delivery and wastewater treatment infrastructure will trigger a $206 billion increase in costs for businesses. In a worst case scenario, a lack of water infrastructure investment will cause the United States to lose nearly 700,000 jobs by 2020.
“The federal government cannot meet this need alone, but we must take a proactive approach with state and local partners, making strategic investments in innovative projects designed to meet the current and future needs of our water systems. A healthy water infrastructure system is as important to America’s economy as paved roads and sturdy bridges,” Senator Cardin added.
Water and wastewater investment has been shown to spur economic growth. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has found that for every dollar invested in water infrastructure, the Gross Domestic Product is increased to more than $6. The Department of Commerce has found that that same dollar yields close to $3 worth of economic output in other industries. Every job created in local water and sewer industries creates close to four jobs elsewhere in the national economy.
Section 1: Short title.
Section 2: Definitions.
Section 3: Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability.
Section 4: Authorization of Appropriations: