Tonko, Pallone Release GAO Report on State of Water Infrastructure in Areas of Declining Population
Tonko and Pallone released a report today from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), detailing the state of water infrastructure in selected midsize and large cities with declining populations, commonly known as legacy cities.
Representatives Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) and Frank Pallone (NJ-6) released a report today from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), detailing the state of water infrastructure in selected midsize and large cities with declining populations, commonly known as legacy cities. The report shows the immediate need for legislation introduced by Tonko and Pallone, aimed at improving crumbling water infrastructure and enhancing the quality of safe drinking water in communities across the nation.
Key findings in the report include tremendous financial needs that exist for improving water infrastructure in cities with declining populations like New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, among others. Additionally, current utility rates have been found to place a heavy financial burden on low-income households in these types of communities. Additional findings can be viewed on the attached report summary.
“Americans living in legacy cities rely on water systems with lead pipes, high leakage rates, combined sewer overflow issues, and a significant backlog of deferred maintenance. At the same time, declining rate payer bases puts added pressure to raise the rates for those that remain in these cities, often for those who can least afford it. These residents are statistically more likely to be low-income or unemployed,” said Tonko.
“I thank the GAO team for this detailed report. It illustrates what we have seen for years – legacy cities need additional assistance, and our existing federal programs are not designed to address their structural and demographic challenges. Along with Ranking Member Pallone, I am committed to fighting for a reassessment of EPA’s definition of affordability and an increase in federal investments in water systems in these cities. Without improving the federal partnership, our nation’s most disadvantaged communities will continue to struggle to provide clean, reliable, and affordable water,” Tonko concluded.
“This report reinforces the lessons from the crisis in Flint, and highlights the fact that drinking water problems are impacting communities nationwide,” Pallone said. “The federal government plays an essential role in funding water infrastructure projects, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The need is too great to be ignored, and it’s time for Congress to act.”
Earlier this year, Reps. Tonko and Pallone introduced H.R. 4653, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability (AQUA) Act of 2016 and H.R. 6116, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 2016. These bills would support legacy cities’ drinking water systems by:
Additional information on the GAO report released by Tonko and Pallone is attached. Tonko is the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, which has jurisdiction over drinking water. Pallone serves as the Ranking Member for the full Energy and Commerce Committee.
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