The Association of State Drinking Water Adminis- trators (ASDWA) has estimated that to fulfll the minimum required functions, state drinking water
programs need at least $625 million per year, or $240 million
more than they currently receive from all funding sources.
It said for more robust, comprehensive programs, the require-
ment would be $748 million, leaving a gap of $308 million.
ASDWA noted that since its last report on water fnancing in
April 2003, “the situation has, in many respects, grown worse.”
tems in the U.S. Further, 97 percent of those systems are
small, and many require additional support from state
drinking water programs.
“As the requirements for addressing public health risks
posed by drinking water contaminants have become more
complex and pressing, state program responsibilities for adequately managing sources of drinking water, overseeing the
treatment of drinking water and supervising water systems
have all increased,” according to ASDWA.
“States are tasked with ensuring that all of the fed-
eral requirements — and any more stringent state
requirements — are met. This is a highly time- and resource-
intensive undertaking for state programs,” it said. “But in their
absence, water systems may experience preventable operation-
al or managerial failures, which pose potentially serious public
health threats for consumers. Recent manmade and natural di-
sasters have served to underscore the criticality of the work that
state programs do to help ensure safe drinking water.”
ASDWA noted that the public may see state drinking wa-
ter programs as a relatively low priority since they generally
work well. “A successful, prevention-based program makes
few headlines and operates largely outside the public eye,
which makes it harder to explain the importance of adequate
funding. But the success of these essential state programs is
not guaranteed and states continue to face fscal challenges
that compromise their effectiveness.”
ASDWA recommended that Congress double funding for the
$100-million-per-year Public Water System Supervision (PWSS)
Grant Program. “The PWSS is the principal and most impor-
tant source of funding for states because of its fexibility in sup-
porting state programs, and because it is a dedicated source of
funding for drinking water program implementation.”
It said Congress should restore funding for the drinking
water state revolving fund (SRF) from the current $853 mil-
lion to the $1.3 billion appropriated in fscal 2010. “ASDWA
would like to emphasize that states urgently need greater
funding levels for the drinking water SRF so that more fund-
ing for state programs can be made available through the set-
asides … for both infrastructure and state programs, thereby
lessening the pressure for tradeoffs between those uses.”
ASDWA also added that Congress should restore the
Drinking Water Security Grant Program, which expired a few
years ago, allocating at least $10 million.
“It was instrumental in helping states es-
tablish and implement state drinking water
security programs to deal comprehensively
with hazards and security threats, including those posed by
both manmade and natural disasters. When the grant was
discontinued, many states resorted to using PWSS grants or
drinking water SRF set-asides to continue to fund state drink-
ing water security programs.”
Jim Taft, ASDWA’s executive director, told WaterWorld
that the key players in the struggle for federal funding
are the EPA, the administration, the Offce of Manage-
ment and Budget and the congressional appropriations
committees — and especially the latter.
Congress will launch the fscal 2015 appropriations process
after the president submits his budget proposal in March. “It’s
always an uphill battle to win changes like these, but we will
begin by offering verbal and written testimony to the appropriations committees this spring,” Taft said.
In January, yet another bill was fled to address water project fnancing problems. Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Tim
Walz (D-Minn.) fled the measure, H.R. 3862.
It would set into law EPA’s integrated planning framework
and extend permit terms up to 25 years for some communities; require EPA to broaden its fnancial capability determinations; extend the repayment to 30 years for some clean water
SRF loans; forgive loans for communities that meet certain
criteria; and ensure that small communities receive a portion
of available funding under the clean water SRFs.
Of more immediate importance, in January Congress
passed a $1.1-trillion fscal 2014 spending bill that prevented
draconian cuts to the drinking water and clean water SRFs.
ASDWA Makes Case for Drinking
BY PATRICK CROW
ASDWA NOTED that the public may see state drinking water
programs as a relatively low priority since they generally work well.