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Rep. Tonko Introduces AQUA Act to Invest in America’s Public Water Systems

Bill would increase federal investments in U.S. water systems to remove lead pipes, improve long-term resiliency and sustainability

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Washington, February 16, 2017 | comments
"Every life and every job depends on water. Yet for decades our federal government has allowed funding for our water systems to drip away. Now many of these aging systems have fallen into disrepair and many are reaching their breaking point, costing local taxpayers significantly more to fix than the systems would be to maintain. Our bill confronts the challenge of these declining water systems head on." - Rep. Paul Tonko
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WASHINGTON – Last night Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the AQUA Act, H.R. 1071, a bill to significantly increase funding for local communities with water systems in dire need of repair. The AQUA Act:

-          Authorizes significantly higher funding levels for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) so states get the resources they need to address their most pressing local water system needs.

-          Increases funding for a grant program to remove lead pipes from public water systems. Lead pipes were banned more than three decades ago but there are still an estimated 3.3 to 10 million still in service.

Rep. Paul Tonko: “Every life and every job depends on water. Yet for decades our federal government has allowed funding for our water systems to drip away. Now many of these aging systems have fallen into disrepair and many are reaching their breaking point, costing local taxpayers significantly more to fix than the systems would be to maintain. Our bill confronts the challenge of these declining water systems head on, rapidly increasing the funding available to state and local governments to take on these critical infrastructure projects and helping communities in Flint and elsewhere manage the cost of removing lead pipes that poses a threat to their water security.”

Rep. Frank Pallone: “The tragedy in Flint, Michigan is just one example of the many communities around the nation that are in dire need of funds to repair dangerously degraded water systems,” Pallone said. “The AQUA Act provides meaningful funding for local communities to repair aging water systems and infrastructure, which are critical to ensuring that people have access to safe and clean drinking water. I commend Congressman Tonko for his continued leadership on this important issue, and look forward to working with him to build support for the legislation in Congress."

The AQUA Act is also included as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments, legislation to improve a critical environmental law that has not be updated in 21 years. Rep. Tonko sponsors both bills jointly with Rep. Pallone (D-NJ), who serves as Ranking Member on the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Rep. Tonko serves as the Ranking Member of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, which has jurisdiction over the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is the primary source of federal funding for drinking water infrastructure projects. It was created by the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. While the SRF remains an active source of resources for states because it has been included in annual appropriations and budget deals, the program authorization expired in 2003 and Congress has neglected to reauthorize the program or correct outdated and increasingly insufficient funding levels in the years since.

 

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