NACWA and DC Water Testify in Support of Increased Clean Water Funding

March 17, 2021

(Washington, D.C.) – On Wednesday, DC Water Chief Operating Officer and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Vice President, Kishia Powell, testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife on the need for greater federal investment in clean water.

The hearing, entitled “Examining the Challenges Facing Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects,” examined the growing funding need for vital clean water and drinking water infrastructure projects. NACWA has long advocated for a greater federal cost-share – it is currently at less than 5% nationwide with local communities paying for 95% of the “cost of clean” – in order to meet an expanding array of Clean Water Act obligations.

The need for this funding has also been greatly exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many American households have been unable to pay their water bills as a result of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, resulting in over $8.7 billion in unpaid water bills. The economic impact has also fallen more heavily on minority communities who need significant help paying these arrearages.

Adam Krantz, CEO of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, issued the following statement:

“NACWA thanks Ms. Powell for her testimony on behalf of the over 330 public clean water and wastewater utilities represented by the Association. As she made clear in her testimony, public clean water utilities have been without a strong federal partner for decades, and the current go-it-alone approach has placed an overwhelming financial burden on our country’s most vulnerable populations.

“However, as Ms. Powell noted, the federal government has a unique opportunity to deliver meaningful change by stepping in and providing the funding needed for critical infrastructure projects to deliver clean water services, create well-paid local jobs, make our communities climate-ready and more resilient, while also helping to ensure compliance with increasingly complex environmental challenges and Clean Water Act obligations.

“NACWA would also like to emphasize Ms. Powell’s call to create a permanent Low-Income Water Assistance Program. The inaugural funding delivered in the most recent relief packages is a great start, but American households facing economic instability deserve a permanent, reliable, and well-funded assistance program for water, just as they do for food and energy.”

Kishia Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice-President, issued the following statement:

“Public clean water utilities are at a tipping point. Already faced with the challenge of maintaining and replacing aging infrastructure, grappling with the impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable communities, and spending billions to meet our compliance obligations; the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the financial strain for many clean water utilities as arrearages have grown to an estimated $8.7 billion in revenue losses.”