U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9) today outlined legislation they will introduce in both Houses of Congress to address New Jersey’s and the nation’s aging water infrastructure, while creating jobs and economic opportunity.
“Flint has taught us all that ignoring our aging water infrastructure has dire consequences,” said Menendez. “We’ve under-invested in our infrastructure, certainly we’ve underinvested in water systems, and now we’re paying the price. These systems are old and badly degraded. Many of them are waiting to fail, and they need to be fixed. We can’t sit back, do nothing, and fail to address the public health dangers of an aging infrastructure.”
“The fact that we are jeopardizing the health of our children and families in communities like Flint due to lack of adequate investment in our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure is simply reprehensible,” said Booker. “This legislation is one step to help finance critical water infrastructure upgrades by facilitating private investment in projects that will create jobs, spur economic growth and most importantly protect the health and safety of our communities.”
“It’s not just burst mains we need to worry about: About a quarter of the treated water in this country is lost as it travels to our homes and businesses,” Pascrell said. “Fixing these aging systems is a pressing need and upgrades can help alleviate threats to public health and also create needed construction jobs throughout the country.”
The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act would stimulate billions of dollars in private-sector investment to fund much-needed, large-scale repairs and upgrades to our water systems, said the federal representatives. The bill modifies the federal tax code to remove caps on the issuances of government private activity bonds (PABs) for water and wastewater projects. Currently, annual volume cap exemptions exist for PAB financing of airports, seaports and certain intercity rail projects.
Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pascrell have introduced the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act in each of the past four Congresses. They agreed to reintroduce the measure, now with Sen. Booker as a cosponsor, amidst the increased attention on our nation’s water infrastructure needs following the Flint, Mich. public health crisis. In 2012, Sen. Menendez successfully pushed a PAB amendment through the Senate as part of the MAP-21 transportation bill, but Republican leaders pulled it from the final House version.