Senator Bob Graham
EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water
February 28, 2002
††††††††††† Last March, this subcommittee began a series of hearings and meetings on our nationís water infrastructure needs. The Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water continues our commitment to address water infrastructure concerns with todayís legislative hearing.†
††††††††††† Although the focus of this hearing is S. 1961, the Water Investment Act of 2002, witnesses are also asked to provide testimony on a number of related bill currently pending before the subcommittee.
††††††††††† On February 15, I introduced the Water Investment Act with Senator Crapo, Senator Jeffords, and Senator Smith in an attempt to address the critical challenges facing our nationís wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. These problems include funding levels, allocation of funds, water supply, project prioritization, and project planning and management. Specifically, the bill authorizes $35 billion over 5 years to ensure the financial and environmental sustainability of our water programs.†
††††††††††† In addition, we have revised the allocation formula for Federal money under the SRF programs to reflect a needs-based approach. I think that these two factors are crucial if we are to succeed in maintaining the nationís existing infrastructure and planning for our future needs.
††††††††††† The Water Investment Act also encourages smart planning by ensuring that communities look at regional transportation plans, land use plans, and watershed plans. From the perspective of Florida, one of the most important provisions of the bill is the analysis of water supply and drought information. This information will be compiled by the Federal government and shared with state and local governments so that we can more adequately prepare for our future water needs.† †This represents recognition on the part of the Federal government that our water supply is becoming an increasingly precious resource.
††††††††††† Sections of the country that had an abundance of water are now looking at restrictions. †This legislation moves us toward suggestions of ways in which the supplies we have can be used more effectively and new supplies can be developed.
††††††††††† The Water Investment Act represents the culmination of a year of hearings, meetings, and correspondence with national organizations and government entities. The bill responds to the pleas that we have heard from these organizations to fund our nationís looming water infrastructure needs.
††††††††††† In closing, I want to thank Senator Crapo, Senator Jeffords, Senator Smith and their staffs for all of their work on The Water Investment Act I look forward to hearing from the witnesses about the specific provisions in this legislation.