The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) supports increased, sustained and direct federal funding levels for water and wastewater, including the exploration of developing a Water Trust Fund to provide local governments and multi-jurisdictional regional planning organizations adequate resources to meet the current and future water and sewer needs.
- Support the federal government partnership with local governments and regional planning organizations on water and wastewater issues.
- Engage directly with local elected officials who understand the local needs, opportunities and obligations through their “on-the-ground” perspective.
- Support incentives to local governments and regional planning organizations to protect environmental resources.
- Explore the creation of a Water Trust Fund (WTF) to provide dedicated, firewalled and sustainable funding to clean and safe water resources and infrastructure (both drinking and waste water).
- Authorize and increase funding for both the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds to ensure adequate resources for wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities – urban and rural.
- Direct a portion of water infrastructure funds to multi-jurisdictional regional planning organizations.
- Increase funding to multi-jurisdictional regional planning organizations to develop regional water allocation plans.
- Increase state pass through funding for planning to regional planning organizations in order to sustain programs.
- Reaffirm a commitment to and fund the Clean Water Act Sec. 208 Areawide Water Quality Management Plans, which promote effi cient and comprehensive programs for controlling water pollution from point and nonpoint sources.
- Establish innovative financing ideas for water and wastewater infrastructure projects such as “Regional Infrastructure Improvement Zones,” a financing mechanism that would allow for businesses or individuals to make contributions toward infrastructure/economic development project(s) for a tax deduction.
- Amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to authorize appropriations of sewer overflow control grants.
- Fund research to determine the impacts of climate change on water resources and infrastructure.
- Encourage funding for sustainable water infrastructure and practices such as green infrastructure.
- Provide technical assistance grants to urban, suburban and rural areas.
- Encourage federal assistance for local governments and regional planning organizations for public education and communication on environmental needs and issues.
- Oppose measures that create mandates on local governments and/or regional planning organizations without full federal funding.
- Coordinate federal agencies responsible for water issues to maximize the impact of federal water quality programs.
- Encourage regional approaches through multi-jursidictional regional planning organizations to resolve environmental issues that are cross-jurisdictional in nature.
- Ensure that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) role within the Sustainable Communities Partnership addresses water quality and quantity with regional solutions through established multi-jurisdictional regional planning organizations.
- Encourage and incentivize innovative water technology for reuse functions.
- Support conservation strategies and technical assistance to local governments and regional planning organizations.
- Ensure national standards protect the safety of America’s water infrastructure systems, without hindering local activities.
- Support and incentivize the development of regional local stormwater management plans and programs for local governments consistent with state stormwater program goals and EPA guidance.
According to a recent poll, nine out of ten Americans believe safe and clean water is a national priority that deserves federal investment. Projected drinking water and wastewater needs range from $485 billion to nearly $1.2 trillion, while federal funding to clean water spending has shrunk dramatically – 78% in 1978 to just 3% today. Congress, therefore, should assist states and local communities to address the growing infrastructure needed to maintain a clean and safe supply of water, and recognize the work of regional planning organizations in their efforts to assist local governments address quality and supply issues by increasing the amount of funds available for planning, technical assistance, and responding to emerging water issues.