Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

Katie Brown (202) 224-2160            

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing entitled, "Our Nation's Water Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011  10:00 am

I first want to state for the record how tirelessly Senator Cardin has worked to continue the federal investment in water infrastructure. I have appreciated working with him and although we have not always agreed, there is no doubt in my mind that we share the same goal of maintaining the safety of our nation's drinking water.  I look forward to continuing to work with him and other members of the subcommittee next year.

As this committee is well aware, a nationwide investment in water infrastructure projects creates jobs, repairs crumbling infrastructure, and protects public health and the environment. I am grateful that the water and wildlife subcommittee is tackling this issue which is so important to Maryland, Alabama, California, Oklahoma, and to the rest of the US.

I am especially pleased that we can hear a state perspective on water infrastructure needs today from Joe Freeman, Chief of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board's Financial Assistance Division. Joe has worked on water infrastructure financing issues both in Oklahoma and at a national level, and will be able to provide us with a valuable perspective today. I would like to mention that Oklahoma is nearing completion of a State Water Plan. I know the Oklahoma Water Resources Board has done tremendous work in putting this 50 year plan for water use in Oklahoma in place. While the decisions have been challenging and sometimes painful, I know that there is one thing Oklahomans agree on: we need to invest in our water infrastructure.

I am also looking forward to hearing more about the jobs that are created as a result of water infrastructure investments from Mr. Richey. I understand that the American Cast Iron Pipe Company has a presence in Oklahoma and that they employ approximately 215 people at their American Castings plant in Pryor, OK.

Funding for water infrastructure is greatly needed. Each day, the condition of our water infrastructure results in significant losses and damages from broken water and sewer mains, sewage overflows, and other symptoms of water infrastructure that is reaching the end of its useful life cycle.

Investments in water infrastructure provide significant economic benefits as well. The U.S. Conference of Mayors notes that each public dollar invested in water infrastructure increases private long-term GDP output by $6.35.  The National Association of Utility Contractors estimates that one billion dollars invested in water infrastructure can create over 26,000 jobs. In addition, the Department of Commerce estimates that each job created in the local water and sewer industry creates 3.68 jobs in the national economy and each public dollar spent yields $2.62 dollars in economic output in other industries.

Considering the importance of water infrastructure to the well being of the American people and to our economy, I will continue to support investment in water infrastructure and am looking forward to hearing the testimony of all of our witnesses on this important topic. Thank you.