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Act Now...Or Wastewater Costs Will Swamp America's Communities

The "Cost of Clean" is rising sharply. To focus national attention on skyrocketing wastewater infrastructure costs, two leading national water quality organizations - the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) - have released startling findings on massive funding gaps facing local governments across the country. Their report, The Cost of Clean, presents disturbing financial trends that could jeopardize America's future water quality and calls for a national dialogue of federal, state and local leaders to find a way to fill the gap.

Currently, America's communities shoulder 90 percent of wastewater infrastructure costs nationwide. As the costs grow and cities strive to ensure ever higher water quality standards, the federal share of the cost of clean remains level. This situation is pushing many local budgets beyond the breaking point, threatening economic growth and further environmental progress. With needs projected to be $330 billion over the next 20 years, AMSA and WEF are sounding the alarm.

Rhonda Harris"Wastewater treatment plants and collection systems are the most important, and least visible, part of our urban infrastructure," says WEF President Rhonda Harris, founder of Professional Operations, Inc. (PRO-OPS), an operations consulting firm for environmental facilities based in Plano, Texas. "I believe, and the Water Environment Federation believes, that funding for this vital infrastructure is crucial to public health, environmental protection, economic well being, and to our nation's continued world leadership in this sector."

Photo"Communities in every state across the country are facing staggeringly expensive wastewater needs," says AMSA President Michele Plá, Planning Manager for San Francisco's Clean Water Program. "On top of all the other services they provide, local governments must fund a costly combination of water infrastructure. They must pay to operate, maintain, expand or replace their aging wastewater treatment plants. And, at the same time, many must also correct discharges that occur during periods of extreme rainfall that overwhelm the capacity of wastewater collection systems, many of which were built generations ago. Millions must be spent in thousands of communities on both wastewater treatment plants and on 'wet weather' discharges. Americans prize clean water as an investment in the future. AMSA feels that federal spending should reflect the high value Americans place on quality infrastructure and a healthy environment."

-- From the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies & the Water Environment Federation
 


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