Oct 06 2017

Fischer’s Bipartisan Water Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate

Provide Local Communities with Increased Flexibility to Manage Wastewater and Storm Water Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, which was introduced by U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), along with Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in March of this year. This legislation would provide local communities with increased flexibility when complying with Clean Water Act requirements for updates to water infrastructure projects. The bill would also give communities more autonomy as they prioritize and plan for wastewater and storm water investments.

Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement:

“Nebraskans who live in the Omaha metro area know the burdens of complying with expensive, unfunded EPA mandates that result in higher utility bills. With this bipartisan water infrastructure bill, cities and local communities will have greater flexibility to prioritize projects. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working together to improve our nation’s water infrastructure.”

Many state and local governments face difficulties meeting Clean Water Act requirements for storm water and wastewater updates. The U.S. Conference of Mayors found, on average, municipalities spend between 6 to 7 cents of every tax dollar on water and sewer systems. This makes water infrastructure the third-largest expense for cities, after education and emergency personnel.

The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act would:

  • Provide communities with flexibility to prioritize investments in wastewater and storm water projects needed for CWA compliance.
  • Establish an Office of Municipal Ombudsman at EPA to assist cities in complying with federal environmental laws.
  • Compel the EPA to promote "green infrastructure," which uses or mimics natural processes to infiltrate or reuse storm water runoff beneficially on-site where it is generated.
  • Require the EPA to update this guidance and expand the criteria for determining affordability and revise its guidance for affordability measures.
  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities have endorsed the legislation. Click here to read the letter of support from these organizations.

Click here to read the text of the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act.