This week, freshman U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., led a letter with more than a dozen members of the Florida Delegation to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee requesting an update to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) formula to ensure adequate funding for Florida’s water quality projects.
Established in 1987, the CWSRF provides states an annual allotment for low-interest financing of local water infrastructure projects. Eligible projects include wastewater systems and treatment facilities, stormwater management, estuary projects and others. Septic-to-sewer conversion costs are eligible for CWSRF financing. The CWSRF’s formula for determining state allocations has not been updated since 1987. According to a 2016 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report to Congress, the formula does not adequately reflect population changes or meet the needs of most states in the country.
Florida’s population has nearly doubled since 1987, yet its allocation has remained static. As a result, Florida received the third-lowest allotment per capita nationwide from the CWSRF program in 2019.
In the letter, the delegation requests an update to the allotment in any legislation considered by the U.S. House of Representatives amending the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Florida has unique water challenges and the third most-significant water infrastructure needs in the country, according to the EPA’s Clean Watersheds Needs Survey. If Congress were to implement one of the EPA’s recommendations for modernizing the allotment, Florida could receive an annual increase from the program between 102 percent and 166 percent. Doubling the annual allotment would increase the allotment between $55 million and $90 million for Florida, which would be retained by the state and used for water quality projects.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has jurisdiction over the CWSRF.
Besides Waltz, other signers include Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Alcee Hastings, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala and Darren Soto and Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, John Rutherford and Ted Yoho.
The letter is as follows:
Dear Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves,
We write concerning the antiquated formula determining the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) allotment to states. The allotment was established in the 1987 Water Quality Act and has not been modernized to reflect population size, water infrastructure needs, non-federal participation in CWSF, or other factors. The inadequacy of the allotment, as illustrated in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2016 report to Congress, Review of the Allotment of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (Report), restricts states like Florida from addressing serious water quality needs. We seek your cooperation to modernize the allotment in any legislation that amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
EPA’s Report fails to identify factors constituting the current allotment and finds that most states do not receive annual funding in proportion to water infrastructure needs or population. Florida receives the third lowest allocation per capita, has significant water quality demands, and welcomes 1,000 new residents every day. Florida epitomizes the inadequacy of the allotment; however, many states have seen significant demographic changes since 1987 and stand to benefit from modernizing the allotment.
The report states that needs as identified by the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2012 (Needs Survey) and population are the primary factors that should be considered in determining the allotment. The most recent Needs Survey estimated $271 billion in capital investment necessary to maintain water quality across the country. Florida’s infrastructure demands were among the highest in the nation, totaling between $25 billion and $10 billion, placing Florida as one of the highest needs per capita states.
We appreciate your attention to this matter. As we review the options in the Report for updating the allotment, we seek your cooperation before H.R. 1497, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019, or the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 are considered on the House floor. We look forward to working with your office to make the CWSRF as effective as possible at addressing clean water needs for all states. Thank you for your consideration.