The Fire Chief Project: If only a clean-water operator had been at his side

An Ohio mayor pleads with Congress for more funding for wastewater infrastructure. Industry professionals should do the same.

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A bill now before the U.S. Congress, H.R. 3862, would help municipalities more affordably manage wastewater infrastructure improvement projects.

At least one mayor, David Berger of Lima, Ohio, thinks the bill falls short, according to an article on the website. From the viewpoint of The Fire Chief Project, it would have been nice for a clean-water operator to be standing center stage with the mayor. The bill is now before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Ohio Congressman Rob Latta believes the bill “would help communities with infrastructure projects mandated by the U.S. EPA. “Much of our district’s rural communities and municipalities are burdened with EPA mandates for water infrastructure projects with no financial assistance,” Latta told a reporter. “This forces communities to cover the total costs for these mandated projects.”

In Berger’s view, the proposed legislation is not the answer. “I am certainly pleased that we finally see Congress taking an interest in this problem,” he said in the news story. “However, the specifics of this bill do not address the need. There needs to be something in the law requiring them to help fund mandated policies.”

Berger is a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has offered its own water quality legislation. According to the news story, the Conference of Mayors wants “an integrated planning process, permits for pilot projects, prohibition of civil and administrative penalties, and revolving loan funds.

On the other side, the groups including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) support the bill. Ken Kirk, NACWA executive director, said in a statement that,  “Communities are struggling to pay for the critical wastewater infrastructure necessary to protect public health and the environment. NACWA thanks (the bill sponsors) for introducing this legislation to advance clean water projects while minimizing the financial impacts on already stressed ratepayers and municipal budgets.”

Meanwhile, the Ohio House of Representatives has approved a ballot initiative that authorizes about $2 billion in funding for infrastructure improvement projects in the state, according to the website.

Political activity by clean-water operators is part and parcel of helping the raise the profession to the stature of the fire chief. Plant managers and operators should be visible advocates for water and wastewater infrastructure improvement.


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