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tv   Rural Drinking Water  CSPAN  August 31, 2015 5:55pm-6:20pm EDT

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you're stunned at how long it took to get around to it. everywhere i work in the world where things are transparent they're working well and where they're not it's not so hot. i just went back to indonesia last year ten years after the tsunami, unrecognizable and it was the first global disaster that i believe was ever conducted with virtually 100% transparency, where did the money come from, where did it go, who got it, what did they do with t you could get it all on the internet from start to finish, everything should be done like that. but it's an unrecognizable place now. so that's the sort of thing i wanted to -- you know, i got that from all of you in different ways, but if you really want a patient citizen centered health system, you've got to be able to get the
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information. >> one of the first things that we did at the peterson center on healthcare was to go into a partnership with the kaiser family foundation to create what we call the peterson kaiser health system track, on the web, and the denominator is spend and what's driving that spend and the numerator is what are we getting for that spend. now, it's pretty primitive right now in terms of the what are we getting, our comparative data, mortality by condition compared to other higher income countries life expectancy, but over time, and we hope others will join with us, we want to find those whole system measures that are really meaningful. our thinking sths an old add damage that you don't manage what you don't measure. so we need to get that not only at a macro level but a micro level for each patient as well. >> if i may, imagine what the
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internet would be like if people didn't share data and we didn't have interoperability, but when it comes to our lives we have all these disconnected products out there. there are so many stories of someone going to a doctor's office, thinking they have a stomach flu, they go to the emergency room still thinking they've got the stomach flu but the white blood cell counts were really high, heart rate was really high and the clinicians didn't connect the dots. could you imagine if all this equipment that made this information would feed into somewhere where someone could create algorithms to see the pattern, could you save so many lives and all of us could benefit. whether some pit in palo alto comes up with an established al gore rhythm or someone at ge doesn't duz t that's not the point. it will save so many people's lives and the rest of the
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industry will benefit from it. >> thank you. we have to wrap this session up. i do want to say the governor of kentucky has come here, he is a great friend of mine, he and the governor ever my native state arkansas were the only two governors in america on election day in november who had approval ratings of 70% or more and the voters voted against everything they did. but they loved them for it because no one understands how the healthcare system works. healthcare economics, policy. you ought to get it if you talk about it a little bit, but it will encourage to you accelerate what they are suggesting. the only way you can ever get the level of knowledge about the healthcare system from the general citizenry is to empower them first to do something that they can understand wills their health, the family -- their
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family's health, what they're paying for, what they're getting, how they are going to do this. and i think you guys are great. we've got an impact announcement and i'd like to ask you -- let's give our panelists a hand and then i will have the announcement. tonight programs on hiroshima and nagasaki, the targets of the two nuclear bombs dropped by the united states in august 1945, at 8:00 p.m. eastern a conversation with president true man's grandson, clifton true man daniel, the first true man to travel to japan and meet with atomic bomb survivors. president true man gave the order to dropt bombs. just before 10:00 a u.s. signal core film document ago manhattan project film on the destruction caused by the bombs. and at 10:55. learn about japanese american citizens living in japan during world war ii when the cities
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were bombed. then at 11:15. richard frank, author of downfall, the end of the imperial japanese empire. when congress returns from its august recess one of the first items of business will be a resolution of disapproval on the obama administration's nuclear agreement with iran and other world powers. starting tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. on c-span we will bring you key statements and hearings that took place after the deal was announced in mid-july, including a speech in early august by president obama at american university, house and senate hearings with negotiators and statements for and against the agreement by senate leaders. congress has until september 17th to pass the resolution. next, experts on water discuss the significant challenges affecting small and rural areas, including upgrading
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stressed water systems, the need for more access to funding and regulatory compliance. the house energy and commerce committee held this hearing earlier this year. i'd like to call the hearing to order and recognize myself for an anticipating statement. today's hearing focuses on challenges facing rural water systems. i congratulate an thank the ranking record mr. kunkel to raise the profile before the subcommittee. according to the census bureau 27% of the u.s. population lives in rural areas. the smallest water systems
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account for 77% of all systems. as someone who probably represents communities in small town and rural america, i'm glad we have bipartisan interest in tackling this subject. under the safe drinking water act small and rural drinking water supply systems are subject to a number of drinking waertd regulations, issued by epa. these requirements include systems monitoring, treatment to remove certain contaminants and reporting, addressing these matters requires technical, managerial and physical capabilities that are difficult to develop and are often beyond the capacity of these towns to afford on the same scale as you are ban centers, particularly when it comes to reg lower compliance. it's ironic that these comments where residents work hard to wore their families and local governments per customer compliance cost and demands that are disproportionate to many larger communities. sometimes it's a matter of
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having the ability to keep up with the red tape. while i'm sure we will explore the funding tech nichls among epa, it's not just a matter of throwing more scarce money about the problem, it's about assessing what the needs are for these systems, prioritizing the importance of those needs, finding out whether the current system can be improved to remove unnecessary burdens and eliminate bureaucracy and examining whether volunteer or other efforts can aid where congress cannot. i want to thank our witnesses who have put their lives on hold to battle the elements and join us. people who live in rural communities deserve every bit of the water quality and technical resource that is folks who live in densely populated urban centers to. we look forward to your wisdom in helping us understand these i wish uchlts thanks again to mr. tonko and mr. harper on their work on this issue. i know mr. tonko has an interest in addressing drinking water issues and i appreciate the work he and mr. harper are doing to
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break the ice with this first effort. with that i'd like to yield to the vice chair for the remainder of my time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you holding this hearing on the needs of drinking water systems in rural and smaller communities. like you and many other members of congress i represent a rural district where many of my constituents get their drinking water from smaller cities, towns and water associations. according to the national rural water association more than 90% of the community water systems across the united states serve a popular of less than 10,000 individuals. these smaller communities do an incredible job of providing our constituents with clean safe drinking water but are often at a disadvantage because of commission of scale and need for more technical expertise. i know this is an important issue to you, mr. chairman, and the ranking member and i thank you for its opportunity to continue working on legislation to ensure our constituents get
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the help and clean water they need. i'd like to say welcome to mr. newman, mr. selman and thank you to them for providing their insight to the subcommittee today. mr. chairman thank you again for your commitment on this issue and i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back the time. i have a remaining minute left. if not chair now recognizes ranking member there florida tonko for five minutes. >> thank you and good morning to our witnesses thank you chair shimkus or holding this important hearing on a vital topic and i appreciate the opportunity to work in partnership with our vice chair harper as we address, again a very important phenomenon for all of our communities across the country. we have all heard the often repeated statistics about rural and small water systems. more than 94% of the 150,000 public water drinking systems in the united states serve fewer than 3,300 customers.
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although small systems dominate in numbers they serve just about 8% of our population overall, but to households and businesses across this great country the key feature they have interested in is not the size of their water utility, it is reliable, daily, delivery of safe, clean water at an affordable price to their homes and businesses that matters. we will hear from managers of these small systems here this morning and what we will hear is that they cannot simply pass all of their costs for technical assistance, infrastructure repairs, tapping into new water sources or keeping pace with drinking water regulations on to their customers with ongoing rate increases. the rate bases for these small systems are too small to cover the costs of these essential materials and services. it is long past time for us here in congress to provide robust financial support for our water utilities. in addition to support through
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traditional funding mechanisms the srf and grant programs we should also examine alternative financing mechanisms, new technologies and potential new partnerships that will enable every dollar to go forward in reducing the backlog of infrastructure projects and in ways reducing operating costs through efficiency, both water and energy. i am very pleased to have mayor keegan here this morning to represent the small water utilities that serve people throughout our state, new york. mayor keegan and our witness representative harper's district in mississippi will provide us with a glimpse of the challenges they face each and every day and their efforts to deliver clean, safe drinking water to their public. they do a remarkable job in keeping clean water flowing to every home every day. water infrastructure is essential. it's the only way to state it. we can't afford to do this, we cannot afford to delay these investments any longer.
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public health, community viability and economic vitality all rest on the foundation of a sound infrastructure. we cannot maintain global leadership and compete in a 21st century global economy about 20th century infrastructure held together with a hope and a prayer. we have an excellent panel with us today, thank you for taking time away from your important work and busy schedules to be here to do your messaging this morning. and thank you, mayor keegan, mayor -- mr. newman, mr. selman and mr. stewart for the expertise and dedication you will demonstrate to our -- to your communities that you demonstrate to your communities each and every day at work. i look forward to your testimony and to working with each and every one of you as we move forward and i'm very pleased to be working with the chair of the subcommittee and with our vice chair representative harper and other members of the subeconomy on this very important issue. with that i thank you and mr.
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chair i yield back. >> gentleman yields back his time. chair look to the republican side. anybody seek recognition? seeing no one chair recognizing the ranking member full committee mr. pallone for five minutes. >> customers of all public water systems large and small wealthy and disadvantaged deserve safe affordable drinking water, unfortunately public water systems across the country are facing staggering infrastructure replacement costs and emerging threats including climate change. resources essential to any conversation about safety drinking water much of our nation's drinking water infrastructure is well beyond it's useful life. investing in drinking water infrastructure protects public health, creates jobs and boosts the economy. this is particularly important in the case of small and rural systems to which even minor projects can be unaffordable and i thank the chairman for calling this hearing to examine some of the challenges these systems face.
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in 1996 this committee passed amendments to the safe drinking water act that had a number of programs intended to help small and rural water systems, those programs focused on capacity development, operator certification, infrastructure funding and technical assistance, all of them are designed tone sure the customers of small systems receive safe and affordable drinking water. the small pot of money set aside for technical assistance distributed through grantees have been incredibly important for small systems and i'm glass nrwa and nrca are represented here today. i expect we're going to hear that the need for technical assistant far outpaces the funding available and i hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will ensure this program is given funding. the same is true for the drinking water revolving fund. we want to make sure small and
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rural systems are providing safe and affordable water. the technical assistance piece it less than 2% of the whole pot. we should not lose sight of the bigger picture. for disadvantaged communities the 96 amendments allow states to provide additional support and most funding goes out as loans but for disadvantaged communities states are authorized to provide 0% loans or even principal forgiveness. for small and rural systems this is incredibly important. unfortunately states are not currently required to provide this assistance to disadvantaged communities and not all do. this assistance may become scarcer in coming years as the drinking water infrastructure need continues to grow. when this subcommittee legislation to address toxic algae i expressed my hope that it would be the start of broader drinking water work and i'm pleased the chairman is
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addressing another important drinking water issue. as i say at the hearing on the toxic algae our responsibility on drinking water is comprehensive. small systems serve only 8% of the population. we should absolutely do what is necessary to ensure they have safe water but we should also protect the other 92%. that means reauthorizing the srf, ensuring that frack something done safely, ensuring source water protection, addressing drought and planning of course for climate change. so i look forward to more drinking water hearings and more bipartisan conversations about some legislative solutions. thank you, mr. chairman. >> gentleman yields back his time. now the chair would like to welcome our panel. i will introduce you one at a time. then your full record submitted for the record, you will have five minutes, again, we expect votes between 10:45 and 11:15. i think we will get throughout opening statements and then see how it goes. i'd like to first recognize mr.
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alfredo gomez, director of the natural resources and environmental area for the government accountability office. welcome, sir, and you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning, everyone, ranking member tonko and members of the subcommittee. i'm pleased to be here today to discuss the infrastructure needs -- >> if you could -- if you just pull that a little closer and for our only panelists if you notice there is a button in the middle. so hit that button when it's time to speak and pull that mica little closer. thank you. >> thank you. i'm pleased to be here today to discuss the infrastructure needs facing rural communities across the nation, particularly for drinking water systems. the u.s. faces costly upgrades to aging water infrastructure. the demand for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects in communities with populations of 10,000 and fewer is estimated to be more than $190 billion in coming decades. my statement today summarizes the results of our reports on rural water infrastructure. i will focus on two main areas,
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first rural agencies funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and issues affecting rural communities' abilities to obtain funding for this type of infrastructure. first, federal agencies administer programs that can provide funding and technical assistance to rural communities to help them build drinking water and wastewater systems and fly kplooi with federal regulations. epa's drinking water and clean water state revolving programs provide the most funding totaling $9307 million and $1.5 billion respectively in fiscal year 2014. states are required to provide at least 15% of the drinking water srf funds to water systems that serve 10,000 people or fewer. the department of agriculture's rural utilities service program is the next largest program at $485 million in fiscal year 2014, all of which goes to rural communities. some of the other agencies that
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can provide fund to go rural communities include the department of housing and urban developme development, the economic development administration and the bureau of reclamation. while these agencies with provide funding they have varying eligibility criteria that may focus fund to go specific communities on the basis of population size, economic need and geographic location. second, our previous report found several issues that affect rural communities' ability to obtain funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. these issues including fansing, technical expertise and agency coordination, and both mr. chairman and ranking member tonko and others have already noted some of these challenges. now, with regard to financing, communities typically did not have the number of users needed to share the cost of major infrastructure projects while maintaining affordable use of
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rates. in addition, rural communities generally have limited access to financial markets, restricting their ability to use bonds to raise capital. as a result these communities depended heavily on federal and state funding. rural communities also did not generally have the technical expertise to rebuild or replace their drinking water and wastewater systems. we found they had few staff and often hired consultants and engineers to help them design projects, including preliminary engineering reports, plans and environmental documents. agencies provide for some technical assistance that communities can use. lastly we found that federal communities face potentially duplicative application requirements when applying for multiple state or federal programs. this included preparing foreman one preliminary engineering report and environmental analysis, which likely made it more costly and time consuming
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for communities to complete the application process. we recommended several actions to improve coordination among the agencies and programs. in response as of february 2015 epa and the department of agriculture have developed a uniform preliminary engineering report template that applies to multiple programs. seven states have adopted the template for their use. epa and usda have also begun taking steps to develop guidelines to assist states in developing uniform environmental analyses. in summary, the nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs our large and funding them will be challenging. rural communities face additional challenge nothing funding their infrastructure needs given the financial, technical expertise and coordination challenges they face overall. federal agencies with states should consider how to ease
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communities' efforts to obtain funding, provide technical assistance and better coordinate agency efforts. that concludes my statement. i would be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much. now i'd like to recognize mayor joseph keegan. obviously mentioned by my ranking member mr. tonko from upstate new york, it's castleton-on-hudson. and i know the hudson. i lived in a tech technical school down south on the river, the west point school for way ward boys, that's my alma mater, i know the river and the valley real well. welcome. we're glad to have you. you're recognized for five minutes. >> good morning mr. and members of my subcommittee and my congressman. goong. i'm joe keegan a mayor of a charmer village a few miles south called castleton-on-hudson. we have a pop lay of 1,50069
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best people anywhere. my village is a member of the new york rural water association a nonprofit o organization of small and rural communities throughout the state which is somewhat responsible for my appearance here today. i got a call from the association on monday asking about my availability and i just happened to be traveling back to castleton last night from a trip related to my day job. my village is very typical and representative of communities that have water supplies in new york and the rest of the country. according to the u.s. environmental protection agency the state of new york has 2,305 community water systems, 88% of those serve populations under 3,300. all of us small community and water and sewer utilities have to comply with the same regulations testing and certification as the biggest cities but with only our very small rate pair base and we have to operate, maintain and update our water infrastructure with very small budgets. as a small


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