WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, questioned witnesses about the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) formula.
DEFINITION OF NEED: “The devil is in the details. There has to be a good definition of ‘What is need?’ Is need you don’t have enough capacity for a growing population or is it need—such as what Senator Sullivan brought up—or what somebody in a more rural state might have with aging infrastructure?...What is the definition of ‘need’? Is it aging? Leaking? Not enough capacity?...I think we would be well served to make sure if we’re going to look at this, what does ‘need’ mean? Is there a definition of ‘need’ in this statute or in the Safe Drinking one?”
QUALIFYING FOR NEED AND AVOIDING RED TAPE: “We know our cities and communities and counties under the COVID relief were given dollars, and one of the qualifying areas was water and wastewater infrastructure. I know from my mayors, they can’t figure out how to [create capital improvement plans to demonstrate need without technical assistance]. And then you encourage them to go regionally and that’s not a concept a lot of mayors or county administrators embrace in our state.”
FEEDING INTO A NEGATIVE CYCLE: “This could almost become a cycle. If you’re in a declining population area and you aren’t able to secure funds to modernize your water and wastewater systems, in my view that further declines your ability to attract jobs, to attract residents, to attract people into those areas. So if the ability is only based on population—and certainly environmental justice communities would fall into this category—you’re really going to perpetuate that cycle. On the other hand, if you go to growing population areas and way increase the amount of money for those, then you’re going to keep creating more population growth and you’re going to be getting more and more dollars to modernize. So I think we have to be very careful here, particularly as we’re looking at declining populations and rural populations, that we’re not feeding into a phenomenon that these populations are trying to fight right now.”
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