NEMWI Hosts Primer on Water Policies That Govern Its Availability, Quality, and Reliability

The Northeast-Midwest Institute hosted a Congressional Briefing on Thursday, April 11th, that featured a discussion on the primary laws governing water quality (Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act) and appropriation mechanisms like the State Revolving Fund and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) that finance much of the water infrastructure in the country.  Opening the program, Dr. Sri Vedachalam, Director of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute, introduced the panelists and provided a quick outline of the topics that were being covered.

Participants at the briefing included (an audio recording can be found here):

Jason Isakovic, Legislative Director of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, spoke about the role of public clean water utilities and the process that goes into providing water services to people. He also discussed the Clean Water Act’s modern framework, growing water policy challenges, and the need for a more holistic approach of looking at the intersection between the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Lynn Thorp, the National Campaign director for Clean Water Action, provided an overview of the Safe Drinking Water Act. She also broke down the process established within the Safe Drinking Water Act for setting contaminant limits, the feasibility and costs of setting contaminant levels, and provided information on some of the treatment techniques currently being utilized.

Ted Stiger, Senior Director of Government Relations at the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, shared insights on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the funding mechanisms for drinking and wastewater systems under the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also discussed the new Farm Bill’s implications on water systems and shared insight about key programs that will allow communities to upgrade water infrastructure.

Raffael Stein, Director of Water Infrastructure Division at the US Environmental Protection Agency, provided information about WIFIA and about the evolution of federal assistance for water and wastewater from a grant program to a federal credit subsidy program. He also provided an insider’s perspective on the decision making process for those who receive WIFIA funding.