Nov. 13, 2017 — Before a special roundtable meeting with a group of representatives in Congress on Nov. 2, WEF and a coalition of other major water associations and organizations presented a set of recommendations for the nation's water infrastructure.
Staff members for water associations in the coalition presented the recommendations before eight senior members of Congress, including Chairman Garret Graves (R-LA) of the House Water Resources Subcommittee, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Ranking Member Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. John Faso (R-NY) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX). WEF was represented on the panel by Claudio Ternieden, Sr. Director for Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships.
The priorities document was developed in a lengthy and deliberative process involving leaders and key stakeholders across the water sector, including drinking and wastewater, private and public utilities, and rural and urban communities. While there may not be universal agreement on all recommendations set forth in the document, the majority of them enjoy strong support and the document is intended to guide policymakers towards solutions for the nation's water infrastructure needs.
The recommendations were extensive and spanned a variety of policy and funding issues. Major funding recommendations included increased funding for the SRF programs, full funding for WIFIA, lifting the cap on Private Activity Bonds, removing the debt defeasance penalty, and allowing private utilities to access Clean Water SRF funding, just as they can with the Drinking Water SRF program. Policy recommendations included more technical assistance funding for small and rural systems, support for more collaboration and partnership arrangements between utilities, increased funding and support for water technology research, development and deployment, “safe harbor” for utilities acquiring non-compliant systems, and support for the principles set forth in the Effective Utility Management guidance, which includes improved financial and operational management of systems. The full priorities document will be released to the public in the coming weeks.