Supporting Water Infrastructure - And In Washington
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Supporting Water Infrastructure


Article Date: 10-02-2006
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

The need for sensible legislation.

Since 1988, I have had the unique privilege of serving the same East Tennessee district that my father represented for 24 years. It has been an honor for me to follow in his footsteps and serve the citizens of East Tennessee in the House of Representatives. These citizens have put their trust in me to be their voice in Washington in order to improve their lives and bring more opportunities to Tennessee. As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I work very closely on the creation, maintenance, and security of our Nation's critical infrastructure.

The Committee worked very hard to bring about the passage of SAFETEA-LU, and I am pleased that President Bush signed the highway bill into law last year. It is so important that we make investments to improve our Nation's infrastructure. SAFETEA-LU provides a total of $286.4 billion in guaranteed funding between fiscal years 2004 and 2009.

The repairing of existing highway infrastructure and the creation of new road projects will not only stimulate the economy, but will also encourage job growth. It has been estimated that for every $1 billion spent on our federal highway and transit systems over 47,000 jobs are created or sustained.

The highways and transit systems are not the only part of our infrastructure that must be improved and updated. Our Nation's water infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of repair. Nearly half of the sewer pipes in American cities are over 50 years old. Some are around 100 years old. Treatment plants built more than 30 years ago need to be upgraded.

As Chairman of the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, I am aware of the problems faced by municipal wastewater treatment agencies. I have held several hearings on this issue, andI have heard over and over from our utilities that we need legislation to protect our clean water supply. We must continue to look for efficient and cost-effective ways to deal with our aging water infrastructure and help local municipalities maintain their wastewater facilities.

Last year, I introduced the Clean Water Trust Fund Act to improve water quality and to establish an assured source of funding to help the Nation meet its water infrastructure needs. Clean water is one of our Country's most valuable resources, and we must do everything possible to protect it.

A survey conducted by the Luntz Research Companies found that most Americans believe clean and safe water is a national priority, and are willing to pay more to get it. Over 70% said they would prefer federal expenditures on water before either highways or airports.

As a Nation we are not investing enough in our wastewater treatment infrastructure to ensure that we keep our water clean. Unless we act, we could lose the significant gains in water quality that have been achieved over the last several decades. Several colleagues and I also introduced the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) early last year to authorize investments in water projects that stimulate economic development and improve our quality of life. Given last year's tragic flooding in Louisiana, there is increased interest in authorizing projects that will address flood risks not only in New Orleans, but also in the rest of the Nation.

Last year, WRDA passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 406-14, and I believe Senators will realize that we cannot delay any longer in authorizing modern navigation projects that keep our economy growing. I am confident that if the Senate will pass a WRDA bill, we can work out our differences quickly and put a bill on the President's desk soon after Senate action.

It is clear, though, that traditional financial resources are not keeping up with current needs. In the coming years, we must look for creative solutions to address the maintenance and security of our Country's critical infrastructure. The gap between our financial resources and the Country's needs is going to continue to grow. We must fill that gap.

I encourage you to stay in close contact with your member of the U.S. House of Representatives and your Senators to let them know what issues are most important to you and your company. Personal meetings are best, but any member who does not also pay close attention to phone calls, personal letters, and emails does not stay in office very long.

Hopefully with your help we can get more people to understand the need for legislation like the Clean Water Trust Fund Act, WRDA, and other bills aimed at maintaining and protecting our Nation's critical infrastructure.

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Article Categories:  Public Policy