Tuesday, March 2, 2004 The Honorable Don Nickles
Senate Budget Committee
Washington, DC 20510 The Honorable Kent Conrad
Ranking Member
Senate Budget Committee
Washington, DC 20510 Dear Chairman Nickles and Ranking Member Conrad: As you prepare the fiscal year 2005 budget, we urge you to make clean water and drinking water infrastructure a top environmental and health priority by providing an allocation of $5.2 billion for the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Revolving Funds (SRF). The Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water SRFs help states and local communities meet water quality standards and restore the health and safety of our nation's waters. Despite important progress over the last three decades, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than 40 percent of our nation's lakes, rivers, and streams are still too impaired for fishing or swimming. Discharges from aging and failing sewage systems, urban storm water and other sources continue to pose serious threats to our nation's waters, endangering not only public health, but also fishing and recreation industries. Population growth and development are placing additional stress on the nation's water infrastructure and its ability to sustain hard-won water quality gains. Today, maintaining clean, safe water remains one of our greatest national and global challenges. EPA's Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis found that there will be a $535 billion gap between current spending and projected needs for water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years if additional investments are not made. It is vital that the Federal government maintains a strong partnership with state and local governments in averting this massive projected funding gap and share in the burden of maintaining and improving the nation's water infrastructure. An increase in funding for the Clean Water SRF to $3.2 billion and for the Drinking Water SRF to $2 billion in fiscal year 2005 is the first step necessary to meet the Federal government's longstanding commitment in this regard. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Senators: Paul S. Sarbanes, Olympia J. Snowe, James M. Jeffords, Jack Reed, John F. Kerry, Patrick J. Leahy, Debbie Stabenow, Barbara Mikulski, Edward M. Kennedy, Frank Lautenberg, George V. Voinovich, Christopher J. Dodd, Ron Wyden, Jon S. Corzine, Joseph R. Biden, Charles E. Schumer, Harry Reid, Evan Bayh, Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, Mike DeWine, Lincoln D. Chafee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Arlen Specter, Russell D. Feingold, Richard J. Durbin, Jeff Bingaman, Max Baucus, Barbara Boxer, Blanche L. Lincoln, Daniel K. Akaka