- Our water infrastructure is on the brink of disaster from aging systems, deferred maintenance and upgrades. According to the U.S. EPA, the United States has an investment gap estimated at $450 to $600 billion over the next 20 years for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure including conveyance systems made of aging pipes, sanitary sewers and stormwater systems.
- Recent polling suggests that water quality is the top environmental issue for most Americans. Additionally, a 2005 poll showed that 86 percent of Americans support legislation by the U.S. Congress that would create a long-term, sustainable, and reliable federal trust fund for clean and safe drinking water infrastructure.
About the Legislation:
- A Clean Water Trust Fund has been introduced in previous sessions of Congress with bi-partisan support and establishes a fund for repairing America's corroded pipes and overburdened sewer systems, which pose serious health, environmental, and security consequences. A Clean Water Trust Fund will provide a deficit neutral, off-budget and firewalled dedicated revenue source for water infrastructure which will not be subject to the uncertainties of the annual appropriations process.
- Unlike the Highway Trust Fund's reliance on the "gas tax" as a sole source of revenue. A Clean Water Trust Fund would be financed broadly by small user fees at the manufacturer level on goods that depend on municipal water supplies such as water-based bottled beverages and flushable products that are disposed of and treated by municipal wastewater systems. Additional miniscule fees on pharmaceuticals, over the counter drugs and a small corporate fee will ensure a long-term, sustainable source of revenue to ensure economic prosperity and protect the health of people and the environment.
- Clean Water Trust Fund Would Supplement Infrastructure Funding. With annual appropriations for the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) programs diminishing year after year, AGC supports creation of a long-term, sustainable, off-budget source of funding for water infrastructure such as a trust fund to finance construction and maintenance of this critical infrastructure. Establishing a stable revenue stream to supplement federal funds helps guarantee funding for critical projects.
- Precedent Exists. At the federal level, trust funds are widely used to tackle problems too big for states to handle alone. The GAO has identified more than 120 federal trust funds in operation. These trust funds help ensure funding for other critical projects, including Highways, Airports, Harbor Maintenance, even Oil Spill cleanup. Currently running pilot clean water trust funds have also gained measured success in the areas where they have been implemented.
- Stable, Sustainable Funding Source Needed. We need a dedicated, stable source of funding for our nation's water infrastructure needs that is free from political interference and partisan squabbles. The fund would be budget neutral and not increase our national debt, as it would be responsible for its own revenue generation. The sooner water is depoliticized, the sooner we can ensure access to this critical resource for all Americans.