(May 13, 2020) – The news media continues to seek insights and statements from NACWA’s leadership and staff on all matters relating to the public clean water sector. The next round of America’s Water Resources and Development Act legislation dominated headlines recently, and NACWA was there to field questions, provide comment and inform readers about the necessity of providing additional funding to the sector, particularly in light of the pandemic and the t financial challenges that America’s public clean water utilities are facing as a result.
On May 6, a statement by NACWA CEO Adam Krantz was featured in a wide-ranging summary of the most recent Water Resource and Development Act (WRDA) package in Bloomberg Environment. In it, he urged federal lawmakers to increase their financial investment in America’s public water sector; saying, “[Funding levels] should only serve as a starting point.” Also adding, “It is my hope that both houses of Congress will take into account the heightened need and appreciation for access to clean water in protecting public health and the environment.”
Also, on May 6, The Bond Buyer included in its extensive summary of the WRDA legislation these same remarks, as well as NACWA’s hope that, “the committee consider higher amounts for the revolving loan fund program over the next three years as municipalities deal with the fallout of COVID-19.”
On May 5, NACWA’s Managing Director of Government Affairs, Kristina Surfus was featured in a Washington Post story on the need for federal investment in water infrastructure, particularly during the pandemic. “Access to sanitation and hygiene is critical to public health all the time and especially now in addressing the crisis,” Surfus was quoted. The story also featured the following statistic that illustrates the current state of federal investment in the sector, ”Less than 5 percent of the total budget for operations from infrastructure to water treatment comes from the federal government, according to data provided by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The rest comes from states and the revenue that utilities generate, which is threatened not only by growing unemployment but also by the closure of companies that use large amounts of water.”
On April 29, NACWA CEO Adam Krantz penned an opinion editorial for leading Washington, D.C. newspaper, The Hill, titled Pandemic Sheds Light on Crucial Need for Access to Clean Water Services. This opinion column was written to coincide with this year’s virtual Water Week. This highly visible media placement helped to elevate the conversation around water investment and ran on the day of the sector’s National Water Policy Fly-In virtual event.
On April 22, Kristina Surfus contributed her thoughts to a story in the Engineering News-Record on the future of the proposed America’s Water Infrastructure Act 2020, saying, “…all in all, it is a strong bipartisan funding package for clean water.” Kristina also helped to break down several of the key figures in the bill; highlighting that “the $7.5-billion authorization is “a significant boost” for the Clean Water SRF. The bill's annual average for those SRFs would be $2.5 billion; the program's fiscal year 2020 appropriation is $1.6 billion.
Surfus also cited provisions increasing funding for grants for sewer overflow and stormwater projects. The legislation would authorize $250 million a year for two years for sewer overflow and stormwater reuse grants, up from $225 million per year now.”
At the same time that National Office staff worked to ensure that the clean water message was included in key publications, member public agency leaders were similarly quoted and cited in a host of newspapers on issues related to the pandemic. These stories, too numerous to list here, included articles on the heroic efforts of the clean water workforce as well as efforts taking place at many utilities to sample for Covid-19 markers in wastewater to determine where future hotspots may be emerging so the public health system can stay ahead of the curve in its pandemic response efforts. Please contact NACWA’s Manager of Media and Communications, David Zielonka, with any questions or comments on NACWA’s media presence.