Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EPA Invested Over $8 billion In PA Clean Water Infrastructure, That Funding Now At Risk Because Of PA Budget Cuts

With a series of “aye” votes at the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority April meeting, federal clean water infrastructure investments in Pennsylvania crossed a key threshold-- $8 billion in investment over nearly three decades.
Of the $8 billion in assistance provided to Pennsylvania communities since PennVEST’s inception in 1988, EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and its Drinking Water State Revolving Fund together have accounted for about half of the total.
In addition to the CWSRF-- more than $3 billion-- and the DWSRF-- nearly $1 billion, PennVEST has also tapped state funds approved by voters.
The EPA SRF programs are federal-state partnerships that provide communities a source of low-cost financing for a wide variety of water quality infrastructure projects.
Over the years, SRF projects in Pennsylvania have ranged from nationally-recognized green infrastructure in Philadelphia to a rainwater system that is helping to turn abandoned mine land into a world-class botanic garden.
In 2016, nearly $150 million in CWSRF financing – a record amount for the region – was allocated for a Reading wastewater treatment plant that serves 200,000 residents.
For more information on EPA’s water infrastructure funding, contact Magdalene Cunningham, EPA Region 3, by sending email to:
PA Federal Primacy At Risk
This federal funding is contingent on Pennsylvania retaining primacy-- primary authority for administering federal water quality and safe drinking water programs in the state.
Primacy is now at risk because the General Assembly and recent Governors have failed to give DEP the resources needed to administer these programs.  These deficiencies have been pointed out repeatedly by EPA and other federal agencies.
Most recently, EPA strongly advised Pennsylvania policymakers to provide DEP with the resources to administer the Safe Drinking Water Program sooner, rather than later.
Pennsylvania receives about $100 million annually in federal funds to make improvements to drinking water systems in the state.
There are also bills in the General Assembly, if enacted, would put Pennsylvania in jeopardy of losing Safe Drinking Water Program primacy.
PA Clean Water Fund
In January, the bipartisan Pennsylvania members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission put a spotlight on the need to invest more state resources into the state’s water pollution cleanup programs by creating a state Clean Water Fund.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Sen. Rich Alloway (R-Franklin), Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming), Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) wrote to all members of the House and Senate on the need for more funding.
They said, “Clean water is fundamental to public health and our economy. Unfortunately, almost one quarter of Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers are not safe for either drinking, swimming, fishing or aquatic life.”
One possible solution, they said, was creating a  Clean Water Fund financed by adopting a fee on water use.
(Photo: EPA Acting Regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues (second from left) joins officials for wastewater plant groundbreaking ceremony in Reading.)
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