Senate Hearing Focuses on Wastewater Resource Recovery

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The Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee held a hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 2, to discuss the innovative advances being made in the clean water arena as well as the challenges faced by clean water agencies that are seeking to embrace the concept of the Water Resources Utility of the Future. Four public agency leaders and members of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies testified about their experiences in taking a more holistic approach to clean water compliance as they transition from sewerage agencies to resource recovery agencies.

Tom Sigmund, executive director of the Green Bay (Wis.) Metropolitan Sewerage District, represented NACWA at the hearing. Also testifying were Harlan L. Kelly Jr., general manager of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, California; Andy Kricun, executive director of Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, New Jersey; and Jerry Johnson, general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Maryland.

As Tom Sigmund notes in his testimony, “In the 40 years since the passage of the CWA, a lot has changed: Unit removal costs are high; we've done the easy things; existing infrastructure is old and needs replacement; new regulations — especially on wet-weather flows — layer on compliance costs; the federal intergovernmental financing system that underwrote so much of our past water-quality gains has all but disappeared. ... Clean water agencies are transforming the way they deliver clean water services. At the heart of this transformation is the emergence of new technologies and innovations that can stretch ratepayer dollars, improve the environment, create jobs and stimulate the economy. The most progressive of today's clean water agencies are defining what is meant by the Water Resources Utility of the Future.”

Ken Kirk, executive director of NACWA stated, “We hope that with this hearing Congress will begin to examine policy proposals that can incentivize further adoption of these approaches throughout our sector whether through greater targeting of federal spending or through use of the tax code to attract private companies to partner with utilities on UOTF-type projects.”

The hearing, entitled “Innovation and the Utilities of the Future: How Local Water Treatment Facilities are Leading the Way to Better Manage Wastewater and Water Supplies” was held Dec. 2 at 9:30 a.m. in 406 Dirksen, the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Hearing Room. 

NACWA represents the interests of more than 300 public agencies and organizations that have made the pursuit of scientifically based, technically sound and cost-effective laws and regulations their objective. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim more than 18 billion gallons of wastewater daily.


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