CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R 5320 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on July 27, 2010, under suspension of the rules, which requires two-third majority vote to pass. Rep. Waxman (D-CA) introduced H.R. 5320 on May 18, and it was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. On July 1, the Committee reported the bill favorably 45 to 1.
H.R 5320 amends the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): (1) to increase assistance for states, water systems and disadvantaged communities, (2) to encourage improved financial and environmental management of water systems, (3) to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce the requirements of the SDWA, and (4) to reduce lead in drinking water fixtures and piping, and (5) to strengthen the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program for chemicals in drinking water.
H.R. 5320 reauthorizes and increases the authorization levels for the drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) and technical assistance for small systems. It adds projects designed to improve the sustainability and long-term viability of water systems to the list of priorities that should inform state funding decisions and encourages public water systems to improve their managerial capacity and reduce their environmental impact. It provides priority for SRF funds for water systems serving disadvantaged communities that cannot afford to comply with new drinking water standards and requires states to provide additional assistance to water systems serving disadvantaged communities and struggling to comply with existing drinking water standards. It increases the funding available to the territories for drinking water infrastructure.
In addition, H.R. 5320 changes the legal definition of ‘‘lead-free’’ for pipes and fixtures from 8 percent lead to 0.25 percent lead in wetted surfaces.
And, lastly, H.R. 5320 amends the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program for chemicals in drinking water by outlining transparent procedures for requiring testing and updating methods.
Public water systems in the United States serve more than 272 million people.
In 1996, amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) established the State Revolving Fund program to finance drinking water infrastructure improvements. The funds are used to increase compliance with drinking water standards, protect public health, and assist the water systems most in need. Funds from the SRF are allotted to the states based on a needs survey, with no state receiving less than 1 percent of the fund. Since 1996, the EPA Administrator has been authorized to reserve up to 0.33 percent of the fund for the territories. Each state or territory administers its fund according to an approved intended use plan, providing loans to public water systems at below-market interest rates. Some states allow these funds to be used for preconstruction activities, to produce or capture sustainable energy, and to replace aging infrastructure. In 2010, the State Revolving Fund program received an appropriation of about $1.4 billion. (In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $2 billion for the program.)
Since 1986, SDWA has prohibited the installation or repair of plumbing providing water for human consumption that does not meet the definition of ‘‘lead free.’’ In addition, the 1996 amendments prohibited the introduction into commerce of any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture that does not meet the definition. At all times since 1986, the definition of ‘‘lead free’’ under SDWA for pipes and pipe fittings has been 8 percent lead.
The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program was created in 1996 by provisions in the SDWA amendments and provisions in the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).
Some members may be concerned that any project must meet prevailing wages, and the projects must use American-only materials.
H.R. 5320 would authorize the appropriation of $4.8 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants to states and nonprofit organizations to support water quality projects and programs over the 2011–2015 period. In addition, H.R. 5320 would authorize the appropriation of $5 million annually over the next five years to support the Endocrine Disruptor Screening program. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 5320 would cost about $3.5 billion over the next five years, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts. Remaining amounts would be spent after 2015.
The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates that enacting the bill would increase the use of tax-exempt bonds by states, thus reducing revenues by $337 million over the next 10 years. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the legislation would affect revenues.
For this estimate, CBO assumes that the bill will be enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2011, that the full amounts authorized will be appropriated for each year, and that outlays will follow the historical patterns of spending for existing programs.