On behalf of its wholesaler and manufacturer members, ASA recently joined the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN), a coalition that pushes funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. WIN's primary objective is to find federal funds to meet a projected need of $500 billion to rehabilitate the nation's water and wastewater infrastructure. Currently the federal government allocates $850 million per year for this purpose, far short of what is anticipated to be required.

There is bipartisan agreement in Washington that there is a huge need for the rehabilitation of these systems, but no one can figure out how it can be funded. Funding is not anticipated to come freely from Congress, whose plate is full with similar requests for other worthy projects and programs. It's widely acknowledged that this is a long-term project, and that a likely approach would be to create a Water Infrastructure Trust Fund, similar to the Highway Trust Fund that finances road construction.

A Big Challenge

WIN estimates that over the next 20 years, America's water and wastewater systems will have to invest $23 billion a year in excess of current investments to meet the national environmental and public health priorities in the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and to replace aging and failing infrastructure. The EPA's own data and analyses corroborate these WIN figures. WIN has identified the nation's core infrastructure needs as:

-- Drinking Water Supply Systems - including water treatment facilities, finished water storage, finished water distribution systems, source water development, water supply management and interconnection, source water protection, demand management, and rehabilitation of raw water conveyance and water storage infrastructure.

-- Domestic Wastewater Management Systems - including wastewater collection and pumping infrastructure, wastewater treatment plants, wastewater reclamation and reuse facilities, biosolids (sludge) management, and discharge infrastructure.

In addition, WIN has previously recommended that Congress pass and the President sign and budget for new legislation to finance clean and safe water for America that:

-- Creates a long-term, sustainable and reliable source of federal funding for clean and safe water;

-- Authorizes capitalization of the next generation of state financing authorities to distribute funds in fiscally responsible and flexible ways, including grants, loans, loan subsidies, and credit assistance;

-- Focuses on critical, “core” water and wastewater infrastructure needs and non-point source pollution; and

Adequately finances strong state programs to implement the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Other members of the WIN coalition include the Associated General Contractors, American Public Works Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, Associated Equipment Distributors, and the Plastic Pipe Institute. ASA's Washington, D.C. advocates, Kent & O'Connor, will keep a close eye on the WIN initiatives and will continue to regularly pass along vital information on this topic to ASA members.

For more information about WIN, visit www.win-water.org. Watch your mail and email for more updates and advisories from ASA on this important subject.