††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Testimony of Senator Christopher S. Bond
††††††††††††† EPW Hearing on S. 1961, The Water Investment Act of 2002
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Tuesday, February 26, 2002
††††††††† Mr. Chairman, let me commend you, Senator Smith, Senator Graham and Senator Crapo for your hard work in developing this bipartisan proposal to increase funding for water infrastructure.† The environmental debate today is far too polarized.† This bill should serve as an example to those who care about the environment on what can happen when people come together.
††††††††††† Every person, every family, every community in America depends on clean and safe water.† America can be proud of all that we have accomplished to bring clean and safe water to so many of us.
††††††††††† However, communities around the Nation, and communities in Missouri, know that we need more funds to provide the water we need and deserve.†
††††††††††† A recent EPA report stated that 84 percent of Safe Drinking Water Act violations in 2001 were committed by systems serving fewer than 3,300 customers.† I doubt that many of these systems want anything other than clean water for their citizens.† I imagine that most all lack the funds to provide the services they would like to provide.
††††††††††† We have communities in Missouri like Pickering, in the northwestern Missouri, that are so small that they just plain canít afford wastewater treatment works.† Itís hard to tell the 150 residents and one business in Pickering that they should just raise their rates to build the clean water they need.
††††††††††† Medium sized communities like Lebanon, Missouri, in the southwest part of the state, struggle with problems like sanitary sewer overflows.† They have tripled their water rates and they are still millions of dollars behind what they need for wastewater system they deserve.
††††††††††† Then of course, large cities like St. Louis share many of the problems faced by old urban cities like those here on the east coast and across the Nation.†
I once heard that Philadelphia loses enough water from its pipes every day to supply all of New Orleans.† I donít know how St. Louis and Kansas City would compare, but I believe we are right in there with everyone else.
††††††††††† So it is good that we have a bipartisan bill before us to meet our overwhelming need for additional water spending.
††††††††††† There are many positive measures in this bill.† I support higher authorization levels.† Although, I would remind my colleagues that our work will not be complete when we pass a reauthorization.† We must also work to increase the money allocated for water needs in the appropriations process.† Then we can make sure money is actually spent, and not just wished for.
††††††††††† Measures to increase state flexibility and help disadvantaged communities are also positive.† Although, we must make sure that we donít overload our states and applicants with too many new requirements.† It doesnít make a lot of sense to give with one hand and take away with the other in the form of new mandates and requirements.
††††††††††† I support efforts to broaden funding eligibility for non-point source problems.† The farmers and communities of Missouri want to do their part to improve water quality, but they need the help and tools to do so.
††††††††††† I am concerned with the proposed new formula for allocating money for the Clean Water SRF.† I understand the desire expressed by many that the current system is outdated and unfair.† A new system should be based on needs.† I also understand the advantages of learning from the safe drinking water formula.† However, early indications are that Missouri will suffer under the new formula.† We will need to confirm that point and examine it in further detail.
††††††††††† For now, thank you again Mr. Chairman, and my fellow members, and I look forward, for the sake of our communities and the environment, to working with all of you to make additional water funding a reality.