The Iowa Environmental Council is encouraging U.S. lawmakers to increase clean water infrastructure funding in the economic stimulus plan, now under consideration in Congress. The House version of the stimulus package currently includes $8 billion and the Senate bill $4 billion for clean water infrastructure. The EPA estimated the cost of meeting our clean water infrastructure needs at $580 billion during the last assessment in 2004, according to a GAO report.
In Iowa alone, the Department of Natural Resources estimates water infrastructure needs to be over $618 million over the next two to three years.
According to Susan Heathcote, water program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, 87 of these projects, with a total cost of $306 million, could be underway in three to four months if the necessary funding were made available.
Sixty-six communities in Iowa do not have a public sewer system and 21 communities need help to upgrade their drinking water systems says Heathcote.
"These needs combined with the fact that we could have shovels in the ground as soon as funding becomes available make them perfect candidates for funding under the nation's economic stimulus package," said Heathcote.
In letters to Iowa Representative Boswell and Senators Harkin and Grassley, Heathcote outlined Iowa projects that could proceed immediately with available funding:
- 25 communities with sewage treatment plant projects, with estimated needed loan amounts of $165 million;
- 41 small unsewered communities, with estimated total cost of $72 million.
- 21 communities with need for upgrades to their drinking water systems, with an estimated total cost of $69 million.
Heathcote says, in addition to the new water projects outlined above, Iowa communities also need help to address ongoing efforts to separate outdated combined sewer systems and to repair or replace aging sanitary sewer system pipes. Until this work is completed, Iowa communities must continue to deal with the public health threat from frequent failure of sanitary sewer systems that result in discharges of untreated sewage into Iowa rivers.
"While we are addressing our ailing economy, why not make a real investment in clean water?" said Heathcote.
Wednesday, February 4
Clean Water Infrastructure Is Good Infrastructure
Anyone who mucked about in the floodwaters of last spring should have no trouble grasping the sad state of affairs that our waterways in Iowa are in. Our representatives in Washington should be supportive of efforts from groups like the Iowa Environmental Council who are front and center on this issue. The IEC has the following to say with respect to the stimulus bill working its way through the US Senate.