I appreciate the witnesses joining us here today to examine infrastructure needs in America for potable water supplies and sewage treatment and removal. Administrator Whitman, it is good to see you again. We appreciate your joining us on such an important issue to this Committee. I also welcome our other witnesses here today. I especially want to recognize Jon Sandoval from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, who will be on our second panel. Jon, thanks for joining us.
Infrastructure needs continue to gather attention and interest from all sides, including states, utility providers, and the public. More and more often we see reports of failing infrastructure in many cases, a legacy of previous times and conditions and of previous management decisions. We are also seeing growing examples of communities that cannot financially meet the obligations placed on them by environmental and public health regulations.
These episodes are not limited to any region of the country or size of system. Each and every member of this committee is familiar with a case in his or her own state of a water or wastewater system unable to meet current demands. These examples include crumbling transmission systems, treatment works needing upgrades or replacement, weather-related stresses, and other problems. These situations affect both public and private systems.
As public servants, we are all driven to want to help. But before we can do so, we must have a better understanding on the magnitude of the problem we are trying to address. That is what brings us here today. Future hearings in this subcommittee will explore other components of this challenge. Today, however, we are trying to answer the underlying question, "How big is the problem of water and wastewater infrastructure needs?"
To get there, we ask the witnesses today to help us with this challenge by providing their perspectives on the size of the problem. We would also appreciate their ability to document their findings so that we are able to compare apples to apples, so to speak. Although there is undoubtedly no shortage of issues and recommendations they are eager to share with us, I hope they will be able to save those for another time.
Before too bleak a picture of the needs situation in the country is projected today, I would like to us all to remember that our community utilities are generally solid and managed well. Despite episodes of pipes failing or public exposure contaminants, most systems are striving to meet current demands and responsibilities. This is simply a question of recognizing that we can do better to ensure that the public and the environment are served efficiently and effectively by the resources invested in this area.
With that, I, once again, thank our witnesses for joining us today to provide testimony on this very important issue.