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tv   State Officials Testify on Water Infrastructure Funding  CSPAN  August 2, 2017 1:34pm-3:10pm EDT

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transportation in 2001 because my whole background is actually in trade and transportation. i was a transportation banker for a number of years, for both citi corp. and bank of america and i had worked for transportation companies so my whole background was actually in transportation. so it's nice now to be able to return to a field in which i had, you know, worked previously and it's nice to be able to be back in a department that i'm very familiar. >> watch our interview with elaine chao, friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span radio and cspan.org. water infrastructure financing and provider people with safe drinking water was the focus of a recent hearing with the senate environment and public works subcommittee. members talked about modern needsing the nation's water systems. this hearing is about 90 minutes.
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i call this hearing of the subcommittee on fisheries, wildlife, fisheries, water and wildlife, to order. we are here today to discuss innovative financing and funding to address america's deficient water infrastructure. the purpose of this hearing is simple, today we will be discussing america's current approach towards drinking water
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and wastewater investment -- wastewater infrastructure investment. many members of this committee including myself often reference the american society of civil engineers, asce, infrastructure report card. currently the asce grades america's drinking water infrastructure with a d. wastewater has a slightly better grade, a d plus. that reminds some of our grades in school. not you. >> i'm glad you didn't look this way. >> this is not a rural problem or a big city problem, it's not a republican or a democrat problem. this is a national emergency and we need to find solutions before it's too late. it is one thing to see these terrible grades on paper, but what does this actually mean for people in their day to day lives? usually when we imagine life without clean and efficient drinking water and wastewater we picture communities that do not resemble our own.
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we picture far off countries that do not have all the blessings that america has. sadly, this could not be further from the truth. currently an estimated 1.7 million -- 1.7 million americans live without access to clean running drinking water in their homes. there are tremendous infrastructure needs in rural america, the estimated cost to provide improved rural drinking water facilities totals more than $60 billion. with the needs of water systems in american, indian and alaskan native villages accounting for $3.3 billion alone. we are in a position toñi addre this çproblem, we have an administration that has made infrastructure investment a top priority, coupled with the bipartisan support in both the senate and the house, we have an incredible opportunity to work across the aisle and get back on track to making america's water infrastructure the best in the world. while we all agree that
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infrastructure investment is a necessity this hearing will look at common sense approaches along with new ideas to fund these important projects so we can give the american people that basic service they desperately need and deserve. a popular funding strategy at the moment is the public private partnership or the p 3. p 3s are a crucial component of the administration's proposal and are necessary to get to the $1 trillion investment in infrastructure that the plan promises. while p 3s are a great way to fund certain projects, it's not a magic cure for all. p 3s are a great tool in our toolbox, however, it is important to realize p 3s do not always work in small rural states such as arkansas. that being said a combination of innovative financing, private investment along with state and federal funding such as loans and grants is a good way to
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address the problem. the problem will not be solved with a one size fits all approach. we will have to use every funding and financing mechanism at our disposal while giving communities the tools to help themselves fix the problem. for a moment let's picture a small community in rural arkansas that is actively trying to update an aging and deficient wastewater system. this community has a small tax base, meaning any infrastructure improvements needed would make the cost of utilities simply unaffordable. a community like the one that i've described has few options to fund such a project. they toured the water infrastructure finance and innovation act or program which provides low interest treasury rates to finance water projects, but this project is not likely large enough to receive any assistance. not a problem larger communities using wifia to fund large scale
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products will free up the state revolving fund for smaller communities. the clean water state revolving fund and the drinking water state revolving fund provide funding assistance to repair, replace or expand wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment systems consistent with the requirements of the clean water act and the safe drinking water act. this community could also fund the project with tax-free municipal bonds. since 1913 bond interest earnings have been exempt from federal income tax, leading investors to offer low borrowing rates to communities in 2016 alone communities issued nearly $38 billion in municipal bonds to pay for water infrastructure projects, translating into millions of dollars in savings for local water rate payers. lastly, the small community i'm describing could look toward the federal government along with
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their state governments for assistance. there are a multitude of grants available to communities to help them help themselves. as you can see, we have many tools at our disposal. the trick is finding what works for each community rather than a one size fits all. what works in rogers, arkansas, might not work in chicago, illinois. the time to act is now, we have an incredible opportunity to develop an infrastructure bill that directly addresses america's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure challenges. i want to thank our witnesses today for attending today's hearing and i look forward to hearing real world examples of the problems average americans are facing, i'm interested in seeing what kind of common sense solutions that we can all agree upon. now i turn to our ranking member, senator duckworth. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to apologize i have a
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terrible cold, yesterday i sounded like chewbacca, today i sound like a boy going through puberty, my voice continues to crack. i'm hoping i get to kathleen turner tomorrow, but today it's not so sexy. but i want to thank the chairman for convening today's hearing and i want to thank all of our witnesses for participating in this important conversation. last week ranking member carper and i organized a round table discussion to highlight some of our most pressing drinking water and wastewater challenges. we discussed a 90 plus contaminants that epa currently monito monitors, including toxins like lead, mercury and arsenic. we discussed our most vulnerable populations like young children, pregnant mothers and the elderly whose exposures to toxins in our water system can alter the trajectory of their lives. we also talked about our nation's water infrastructure. mostly built in the early to mid 20th century with an average life span of 75 years and the growing backlog of need in
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communities across illinois and elsewhere. according to the american water works association replacing failing or outdated drinking water systems and expanding capacity to match population growth will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years. the american society of civil engineers as my chairman has mentioned highlights that $271 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs with 56 million more people connecting to treatment plants by 2032. we're now a full six months into the trump administration and we still haven't seen any meaningful details about the president's infrastructure plan. despite a lot of campaign-style rhetoric about the need to invest in our infrastructure, the president's fy 2018 budget provides a net loss, a loss of roughly $144 billion across all modes. the president maintains funding for the state revolving funds but eliminates usda's rural
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development projects and slashes epa's budget by 31%. just last night the white house announced the establishment of a presidential advisory council on infrastructure. house and the department of commerce to make recommendations to the president regarding funding, support and delivery of infrastructure projects across all modes. a report on the advisory council's findings is due sometime before december 31 of 2018. if confusion and delay is the president's goal, mission accomplished. our goal is to enhance safety, protect public health and create jobs. personally i'd like to advance those goals and put people back to work sooner than later. our infrastructure needs are massive and oush communities face daunting investment challenges to guarantee what most of us take more granted, clean, safe, healthy water when we turn on the tap. we are here today to better understand the funding and financing challenges and to work
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to identify bipartisan solutions. whether it be tax exempt municipal bonds, public private partnerships, state revolving funds i'm a firm believer in having the right tools for the job. today's hearing focuses on if the efficacy of the tools available to our communities and to identify the gaps where new tools may be needed or existing tools need to be modified. each provides communities with opportunities to address their water infrastructure needs and each needs to be thoughtfully considered in their context. again, i thank the witnesses for their participation in this conversation. i look forward to listening to your testimony and i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator duckworth, very much. i'm going to introduce mr. phrasy who is from arkansas and go to senator booker and he is going to make an introduction also. mr. fraise moved in 1990 to be closer to his family and was in a situation where he didn't have running water. in 2014 mr. fraise's mother
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contacted my office and we discussed the problem that the family was facing. after talking to mrs. fraise i got her in touch with the water systems council who were able to drill wells that brought fresh reliable drinking water directly to the home as well as the homes of the neighbors. as many of you know this subcommittee hearing was originally supposed to take place on june 20th, but due to scheduling conflict we had to cancel at the last minute. unfortunately for mr. and mrs. fraise they were already on a plane flying to d.c. by the time the hearing got officially canceled. luckily for me and i think luckily for us i got the opportunity to speak with mr. fraise in my office about what his family and community went through and how their lives had changed since receiving running water. most people who had just gotten reliable and affordable drinking water into forget about the problem and go on with their lives, but not mr. fraise. to this day mr. fraise is still getting the word out to everyone
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who is hauling water in their community, he told me whenever he sees someone hauling water he stops and tells them about the options that are available for assistance. mr. fraise, i would personally like to thank you and your family for everything you've done for the area. i would like to especially thank your wife jenny who was nice enough to travel up to d.c. again to watch you testify, and given your personal experience, you know, these are the kind of stories that we need to get out. there's simply no substitute for it. so thank you very much for being here. senator booker. >> first of all, i want to thank the chair and ranking member for holding this urgently needed hearing, most people don't understand the crisis we have in the united states of america when it comes to the quality of our drinking water. the reuters article recently that talked about over 1,000 jurisdictions in the united states of america that have more lead in their water, more lead in the blood of our children than flint, michigan does.
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we are in crisis in this country and it's affecting the next generation, it's affecting our economic competitiveness, it's affecting the greatest national treasure we have which is not oil and gas it's the genius of our kids. i'm very blessed to have a guy here who is one of our champions in our state who is doing extraordinary work in a difficult environment in a city that has had a lot of challenges in a county that's had a lot of challenges with drinking water. and so andy i want to thank you for coming here. andy, for those -- for the record is currently the executive director and chief engineer of the camden county municipal utilities authority. before becoming the executive director and chief engineer of the camden county municipal utilities authority in 2011 he was the deputy executive director from 1996 to 2011. for over two decades andy has been just an incredible public servant, he has made a reputation for himself even up to the northern counties like
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essex. he is renowned in his field for the work he has done to upgrade camden county's water treatment plan implementing cutting edge changes including focusing on green infrastructure solutions. he has utilized cutting edge green infrastructure solutions in order to help address the other issues including camden's combined sewer overflow challenges. andy and his team were able to make these impressive improvements and i think this is good news to all of us while holding user rates steady for 17 years and he currently serves on the board the national association of clean water agencies as the chair of the clean water industry of the future committee and justice and community service committee. he also serves on the new jersey environmental justice advisory council. i'm grateful that he's here right now to contribute to this
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committee and i always say that washington would be a better place if more jersey came down here. so thank you. >> very good. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> senator duckworth. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm senator duck worworth. >> thank you. please to welcome you. the metropolitan planning council worked for more sustainable chicago land region by promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth. for more than a decade josh has been at the forefront of regional planning efforts through initiatives like green rivers chicago and transform illinois. josh is the leading voice in the regional conversations about stormwater management and water supply management. as well as advancing meaningful water policy. i greatly appreciate his willingness to join us today and very much look forward to his testimony.
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thank you. >> you're welcome to go ahead and present your testimony. >> thank you, chairman boozman, senator duckworth and members of the committee. i'd like to express grat feud and my mother's gratitude for sharing my story. for most of my life my family lived without access to safe drinking water. it is my hope through telling my story and struggles to secure safe, reliable drinking water that congress will put in place policies that will bring affordable drinking water to millions of americans who live in our nation's rural areas. providing rural community with this resource to provide wells and well systems may be the single most important form of assistance our government can provide. i live in rural northwest arkansas, an area of great
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natural beauty but where access to basic services like drinking water can be extremely difficult. life without drinking water can be strenuous and stressful. you are constantly worried about how much water you have and how much water will be consumed in a simple day-to-day activities. in my part of the world, people drive every day thousands of miles a year to hall water from a coin operated water machine to their homes. if their water station is broke or there is bad weather conditions, you might not -- you might have to go several days without water. hauling water consumes many hours a week, plus wear and tear on vehicles and has resulted in a number of deadly accidents. my dad, who is a disabled vet, spent much of my life hauling water to our home. my mother was constantly stressed out about how much water we had. many people in our area, veterans, disabled, single
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parents are down on their luck just trying to do right an survive. these folks can't go to a bank and ask for a loan to pay for a we will. we do not have the opportunity to tap into city rural water systems. many of my neighbors struggle to get water. we have single moms taking their children to hot water in buckets. one also worries about the quality of the water being hauled. the water station uses a sign that states we cannot ensure the quality of water. how awful is that? in 2014, our prayers for reliable, affordable source of drinking water were answered. my mother contacted senator b s boozman who listened to our story and helped our family and faems families like ours to get drinking water.
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resulted in drilling of wells that brought fresh reliable drinking water directly into my mother's home and eventually spoke my home and my neighbor's homes. wells and we will systems are ad send to communities like mine. we were never going to have resources to pay for drinking water, treatment facilities or run waterlines many miles. however, wells provide to be a very cost effective alternative for me and my neighbors. the water systems council through its water well trust has provided my parents, myself, and families across arkansas quality drinking water at a reasonable price through wells. last year senator boozman worked with senator cardin -- thank you, senator cardin -- to have the water supply cost savings act enacted into law. legislation requiring usda and epa set up clearing houses with
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information on the use of wells, well systems to meet rural drinking water challenges. the water systems council proved wells can reduce the cost providing drinking water to many rural communities by over 5%. the to have epa needs survey estimates the shortfall of drinking water funding for small communities at $64.5 billion. we've seen in arkansas wells they significantly reduce the cost of providing drinking water in many small rural communities and congress should do everything it can to promote the use of wells in these rural areas. i know firsthand the importance of safe affordable drinking water and wells are a part of that solution. thanks again to senator boozman, cardin, for your work to bring the promise of wells and well systems to communities across rural america. i would now like to show you a
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brief video documenting the role that safe afterwafordable drink water played in transforming the lives of my neighbors in arkansas. [ inaudible ] -- the lines were never built. water well trust went out there and is drilling wells for sell families. >> here in northwest arkansas we are very blessed to have a lot of water.
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we have springs, abundant groundwater, lakes, streams. however, it's unfortunate with all that water that a lot of people don't have access to clean, fresh drinking water. i was contacted to assist with finding septic systems on properties so they could know where to drill wells. >> we've been without water for 17 years. i've been hauling water that long. you have to be real, real conservative. you have to take shorter baths. you have to make sure the dishwasher is completely full before you run the dishwasher. i have a 450 groallon tank in t back-of-my pickup truck. we take it 6.2 miles from here. won it's full it's 200 plus pounds and i drive over here to the water tank and unload, and i do that three times a week. this road here has been 12 to 14
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inches under water during the rainy season. this road doesn't get serviced by the county during the wintertime i've had some close calls on my hill because my water tank people have crashed and killed themselves. you really have to watch what you're doing here hauling water. >> hauling water is dangerous. the added weight in the back of a truck can shift and cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. h this is especially true when conditions like rain or snow are present. >> i'm grateful it's not doing to happen anymore. what i do is i take the lid off and insert the hose. >> hauling was is expensive. according to one water well trust client, over the 17 years he has been hauling water, he has used 26,928, gone through
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three pickup trucks because of the wear and tear from hauling and spent over $8,000 on gas for these trips totalling over $30,000 spent just getting water. >> the waterfalls out of the line into a funnel and then it becomes my water. so i just turned around and have time on my hands and sit back and wait and just have a seat in the truck. >> we've been hauling water for 16 years. they said that we would have residential water here in three years, but it just never happened. >> in many of these rural areas, the expense to run public water supply lines is prohibited for both the water district and residents who then had to absorb the cost. for this arkansas project water district number one estimated it would cost $1 million to run lines to these homes.
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>> i've got to haul this tank once a day an it's not enough. >> i've lived without water for eight years. my husband has to haul water in a truck. he has to do it every other day. my husband will no longer have to put it in the tank, fill it, drive five miles. don't have to worry, don't wash a load of clothes. >> we've lived without safe drinking water for about 13 years. >> i believe there's about 150 families down here that hall their own water. this will be great if it gets going and they can benefit from it, too. >> very good. >> chairman boozman, ranking
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member and members of the subcommittee thanks very much for the opportunity to appear before you today. my name is andrew kricun, i'm manager of the utilities authority in camden, new jersey. i also serve on the board of director at the national association of water agencies which is not for profit trade association that represents the interest of public water clean agencies nationwide. i sips easterly thank the subcommittee for holding this important hearing on america's water infrastructure as all the senators said in their remarks, this is a very important issue for our country. in our agency, we operate an 80 million waste treatment plant in camden city that serves 500,000 in camden and 36 suburban towns in new jersey. we're deeply committed to the responsibility to protect public health and the environment always being responsible with our taxpayer dollars. funding infrastructure is a great challenge of utility. all clean water agencies around the country have the same
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missions and they are as follows. one, to protect the public health. safe drinking water, sewage flows and backups. students shouldn't have to walk through sewage to get to bus stops and shouldn't have led in their drinking water. protect environment, keep open for business, water infrastructure no opportunity for growth and also infrastructure, construction and maintenance results in jobs. there's challenges but also opportunities. in order to do this, in order to meet our mission of protecting the environment, protecting the public health, we have to reinvest aging infrastructure. as senator duckworth said it's old. many utilities are as old as late 19th vengery, over 100 years in the ample life is only about 70 years as you said. we also need to comply with regulations and help support high quality of life in our community. our goal of clean water utilities is not only to meet our mission but anchor in our
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neighborhoods. that's an opportunity for clean water utilities. many utilities across the country are stepping up to do. the need for greater firefightersment in our nation's infrastructure has been discussed today. it's very well-known. i also agree with senators boozman and duckworth regarding d plus grade. it's a very serious challenge. there's a very significant infrastructure gap right now. in addition we in new jersey can speak about climate history. the hurricane in 2012, billions of gallons of sewage went into the waterways in new jersey. there's an infrastructure gap as things stand today even if the climate doesn't worsen. however, as time goes on, this gap will widen. infrastructure only aging, getting worse, many concerned it will worsen. therefore a significant gap today and that only widens. on the good news side there are
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solutions. i'll propose five solutions water utilities can and want to be part of. first, we have to take it on ourselves, increased efficiency for our own utilities. we have to be as efficient as possible, harness the private sector notion of efficiency and harness that to the public good. that's one thing. second, state revolving fun, crucial in new jersey, lucky to have robust srf, infrastructure trust that helped us with financing. third, the additional funding if possible above and beyond additional srf. fourth additional regulatory flexibility for innovation. lastly, an affordable program for low in come customers will be helpful. those are the five things. increased efficiency ourselves, additional funding, additional regulatory flexibility and affordability program. in our own agency, we've been working very hard with regard to efficiency. we implemented environmental management system and very aggressive asset management program to improve our
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efficiency. we also used revolving funds build entire wastewater treatment plan to make sure we were not having adverse impact on residential community, which is only 100 yards away. so we did all of this, built our entire plan through improved efficiency and state revolving fund we were able to hold user fee for 17 years. our user fee in 1996, $352, only $15 higher in 21 years. that shows if we're given the tools, funding from the state revolving fund plus our own efficiency we can do the job and do it in a way without adversely affecting the rates of our customers and making a positive difference for our community as well. this could never have happened, however, without judicious use of new jersey state revolving fund. that's critical. we could not have done it on our own. if we were inefficient we would not be able to do it either. combination of eternal
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efficiency, state revolving fund enabled us to improve our performance and hold our rates. so throughout my role as a board member, our situation not unique. cleep water utiliti clean water utilities, essential to do the mission. we know the year of grants is passed. federal grants will always be welcome. low interest state revolving fund is very, very helpful. in new jersey we're able to get interest rates of less than 1%. the way it works if we're making improvement to our wastewater treatment plant lowering operation, new equipment uses lower maintenance cost and lower electricity, new technologies. we're lowering our cost. annual debt service not so great because of the low interest rates and 30-year timeframe. so by borrowing the money we're able to actually have an annual debt service lower than oem from improvements. that's how we're able to improve our performance, protect the public health and hold our rate
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steady. with the help of the federal government, srf and state, state revolving funds have really been essential helping us meet environmental and public service missions. in addition we're hoping that there will be other opportunities for funding as you've all mentioned already today, the infrastructure issue is really a crisis. so more financing and more funding is needed. again the state revolving fund is a trick way other utilities can follow the approach we took to utilize, improve performance and reduce cost. we're also very supportive of other opportunities like epa's water infrastructure finance innovation act program, municipal bonds, leveraging private investment through public-private partnerships. we utilized a public-private partnership to build solar system that reduced annual electricity cost by $350,000 per year but also lowered our carbon footprint significantly. 10% of our planned electricity,
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we're able to do that no cost. solar planls paid for by private investor and paid 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour a win for the rate payer, more resiliency and solar panels instead of relying on electricity, public electricity and reduces our carbon footprints. public-private can be win-win, share resources and finance capabilities with private sector and also within our own sector. the national association of water agencies working on pier initiative larger utilities with greater resources can assist utilities with lower resources and work together in pier to pier effort. efficiency within our own utility individually but sector leverage our own resources. in fact city of chicago is a great leader in pier to pier senator duckworth. >> andy, before the senator or
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chairman interrupts you, i don't want you to be interrupted by a non-new jerseyan. you might want to wrap up your testimony. >> thank you, senator. thank you. in closing, i want to thank the congress and subcommittee for holding the hearing. clean water industry must close the gap for the sake of our children and future generations. we can do this work but we need help. thank you for the hearing and opportunity to speak before the hearing. thank you. >> so people know what's going on here, senator boozman had to do kind of an emergency thing at the appropriation hearing. he'll be right back. you'll see people rotating. our staff is here. we appreciate your testimony very much. mr. ellis. >> thanks for having me today. i am vice president of metropolitan planning council since 1934 working on urban and regional development issues in the greater chicago region. the greater chicago region is
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certainly the city of chicago but also seven other counties and 280 municipalities. state of illinois leads the nation in units of government. we have about 8,000 in the state. we're not real proud to lead the nation in that but we have a lot. within those municipalities in northeastern illinois we have 400 independent water utilities. so you can imagine the issues that andy and mike describing playing out in 400 different communities revery different demographics, income and economic and that's at the heart of several issues i want to talk about today. so as senator boozman pointed out we have lots of tools in the toolbox for water infrastructure financing. a lot of them work very well. and like any tool, if you use the wrong tool at the wrapping time, try to put a screw in with tape measure doesn't work very well. the reality is instead of focusing on innovative financing, we need to figure out
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effective financing first. make sure communities are getting the tools they need. we did a survey, statewide survey several years ago of water utilities and their experience using srf. actually 30% of the respondents told us they had never heard of srf. that can be problem one. responses are short to read. they didn't know that the program existed. just awareness that the tools even exists particularly in lower income suburban communities as well as rural communities is a big issue. so there are plenty of improvements we can make to existing tools. but there's a huge diversion between communities, not just in the suburbs of chicago but throughout the united states. in practices on rate setting, how communities deal with affordability issues, financial management, accounting, asset management. communities like chicago with the staff capacity and technical know how to employ best practices are doing so. in the city of chicago we are replacing water mains that were installed when president roosevelt was in
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office. that's theodore roosevelt. i have sections of wooden pipe in my office that have been taken out of the ground in the last couple of years. served us well those trees did. many other communities if they don't have the capacity and technical know how to use programs like srf aren't doing these sort of things and falling further and further behind. it's not uncommon in our region for communities to lose 25, 30, 40% of their water through leaks in their pipe system. if every time you went home from the grocery store 40% of your groceries blue out the windows, if every time mike went to fill up a tank of water, 40% of the water poured out on the way home you'd realize you have a problem. that's common in our region of communities losing tremendous amounts of water out of leaky pipes. a lot of communities have no dedicated revenue team for stormwater management. in addition to storm management, failed to upgrade their rates on any sort of regular schedule so they fall further and further behind. the federal government can do many things whether through
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incentives built into scoring, through grants made available through some of the srf programs, even through the basic requirements of the program to encourage full price pricing, consistent budgeting. in my estimation srf works pretty well, just a lot of communities don't have access toyota. communities struggle to do some of the preengineering planning you have to do in order to get a loan you have to submit your infrastructure plan, engineering plan. if you don't have the resources to do that, and you can't get reimbursed for it, you can't do some of that preliminary work you need to do to apply for the program. i'm fully comignizant of the nes state to state. i've lived in many states and know the differences. there are practices in many different states yet we haven't figured out how to put them all together in one package in any state. may be time for greater consistency state to state, use of srf programs now that we
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figured out things that work. at the heart of it in srf and experience statewide the srf program at least in illinois is very slow and cumbersome to use, very different trying to go for a bond or even to a private bank for a loan. application times are very long. screw up construction schedules. if you're low in come community, obtain private engineering 18, 20 months over multiple statements because you're not getting a cost from the state on srf, that drives up cost and can delay projects. this is not just an illinois issue. however, for all the things we can do to make the funding tools work better and have better access to them, i don't think the money is necessarily the fix to all of these things. an infusion of funding for cities like chicago, oklahoma city, little rock, some of these bigger places that have the capacity to take it in and use it for infrastructure projects makes a lot of sense. the point i mentioned about having 400 independent water utilities, some of which are very small, many of those
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communities do not have the technical capacity, staffing or whatever, to be able to receive federal funding, to be able to apply for it. the issue there is governments and fragmentation of the system. right? we have a hand full of water sources, groundwater, river water, yet we have 400 utilities managing these different systems. many areas of the country are just like this. when every municipality has its own utility and the utility operates essentially as public works department, a lot of decisions that get made are wrapped up in the other political decisions that municipality has to make. if you're looking at adjusting water rates but providing fire service and schooling and things, have you to make these decisions with all these other calculations in mind. as a result hard choices like rate increases get delayed, infrastructure projects get delayed, and you end up having 25, 40% of your water dripping out of your pipes. fragmentation compounds underlying environmental and equity issues. if a community like we have in
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many of our suburbs across the country has lost population, lost 10,000 people over the last 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, when people move to the suburbs, they don't take pipes and pumps with them when they exit town. so you have a smaller community, often with smaller industrial base paying for the same infrastructure system, the same amount of pipes. you're having to squeeze water from a stone here to even pay for it. rates increase, often rates will have to increase to pay for the system while increases decreasing. we have communities in illinois, small suburban community on the south side. median household income about $13,000. so clearly has some other problems going on, too. they pay $12.50 per thousand gallons of water. what a family of four would consume in three days. where michael jordan used to live, median household income, $80,000, they pay $5,000.
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>> ask you to try to wrap up. >> absolutely. >> there are disparities occurring( a lot are size and scale. as we think about new funding, the funding is great. getting to structural issues of encouraging through different ways these utilities to start to consider consolidation, to start to consider service so we can get to economies of scale, not putting in the ground and pipes in communities but underlying fundamental issues. i'm happy to talk more about it in the q&a section. >> thank you, mr. ellis. again five-minute questioning. >> thank you, senator inhofe. give you a little more time to speak. we've come a long way. served on whouse committee. flipped water source, the water was different composition.
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i remember the first time i took chicago architectural book. it's run by architectural society and goes down the chicago river. they very proudly said to me on the poet tour about 25 years ago, you know, we're really proud. this river used to be labeled toxic, we're just polluted now. that's the source of water for many communities. that was an improvement. i thought oh, my goodness. mr. ellis, many of us would agree addressing infrastructure needs, we would do our best to tackle challenging practices. tropical storm also something to be said about low hanging fruit. compiling inventory of srf best practices and establishing meaningful asset management and fiscal plan are common approaches to improving approaches between taxpayers and state decisionmakers making infrastructure investments. hardworking families in illinois want to know before a single dollar of their money is spent,
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that everything is being done to maximize the effectiveness of those dollars. i want to follow up on what we're just talking about. what else can we do to improve the relationship between decisionmakers and taxpayers as it relates to funding opportunities? >> sure. so one, just increasing apar awareness through all communications channels. i know one mayor in the suburban area who actually has a water infrastructure background. a lot of folks come spoke office running at the municipal level don't have a background in these sorts of things and need to learn on the job, which is a tough way to do it if you have a massive water infrastructure system. increasing awareness of the tools out there, how they can be used is step one. one of the other issues is this is not water infrastructure until we get to a crisis like we've seen flint, it's not something a whole lot of citizens pay attention to. if they see rate increases proposedf they see it, maybe
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then they pay attention. but we don't have -- while we have environmental conditions at the local level, don't have too many public works of citizens participating in some of the decision making. that seems like a best practice, also encouraged through srf. just so people are paying more attention to it. the other, i think, is starting to find ways to decouple local political decisions from rate setting and somehow make it more comfortable for people to adjust water rates on a more frequent basis so they can keep up with infrastructure back loads so you're not getting a 30, 40% rate increase every 10 years but seeing more modest increases or in some cases decreases on a regular basis so not so in flam tore when this big rate deal happens. might improve trust, might improve the ability to get things done. a lot of it is just communication. this is frankly not something -- not an issue that we talk about very much.
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>> given that, touching on what you just said about leaders, mayors come in without this background, many small communities in illinois and elsewhere may not have that capacity, expertise or resources to deal with the technical challenges and financing challenges associated with reliably providing good, clean drinking water, water services. what suggestions do you have for this resource issue, technical expertise or resources to apply for srf. >> sure. within srf program, there is something called set aside each state is allowed to use, capitalization money and use it for different kinds of grants. some states use those to fund grants specifically for looking at things like consolidation. some use them for just sort of technical assistance and staff building at the local level. the states are using these set asides in very different ways. the reality is in one state
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there might be a program to encourage consolidation. in another there might not be. getting greater consistency across srf programs might do that the point i was starting to make about starting to consider consolidation and lumping utilities there so they can do things larger economy of scale, afford infrastructure projects, bonding, finding ways to incentivize people to think differently about governing structure or water utility would be helpful, too. that's not necessarily a rural or urban thing, that could apply throughout the spectrum. >> thank you. i just have ten seconds. do you want to add anything with your experience with srf? >> use your mic, please. >> sorry, senator. a pier to -- peer to peer initiative is important. lining up utilities willing to share information with utilities that need it would be important.
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epa and aqua working on peer to peer program to try to connect people with resources with those that need it. that would be a great help for people to advance. >> thank you. let me ask you a question you seem a lot of time talking about srf program, mr. ellis. what do you think we could do from here that could change this program to make it work more efficiently because agree this is some obstacles out there. maybe we overcome those. the results? >> sure. one of the big differences between states, you heard any mention, some states have decoupled management of srf program from whoever their state regulatory agency is. right? so the loan program is managed by someone more like -- each state has a different one. more like a finance authority. someone in the business of issuing loans and is able to
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operate faster, further, whatever. some states still have srf program in their equivalent of the epa. that, in my estimation can slow things down, right? having professional financial management staff working on these loan program and probably other programs not related to water infrastructure is one of the things that can speed things up. again, establishing some best practices and encouraging states to look at transitioning the program over to being what it should be, which is a loan program first and foremost would be one of the ways that we could -- you could start to encourage some greater speed and get these loan programs to function more like going to the bank to get a loan for a project at your house. right? faster review times. faster times to get the money out the door would be huge for some of these communities again, because if you're applying for a loan and have you to obtain engineering, consultants, the
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costs build up and you're paying for someone to wait while the other folks review application times. best practices are known in state revolving loan fund, maybe maryland has a couple and south dakota has a couple and texas has a couple. we haven't yet put it together into a perfect package where everyone is doing things recognized as best practices. >> you know the different states represented here, in my state of oklahoma, it's not unlike mr. frazee, the state of arkansas. the big problem has always been, way back when i was in the state legislature before most of you guys were born, at that time the big problem was transferring water from one part of the state to the other part of the state. the eastern part of the state has plenty of water, the western part of the state has no water. in fact, that's why -- so we have -- it happens i've lived with this problem for a long time. my wife and i have been married
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57 years. her father was chairman of the water resources board. so we've addressed these problems for a long period of time. mr. frazee, i was fascinated. i'm very familiar with your area there. i'm in eastern oklahoma, right up against pretty close to your home area. i was fascinated by the fact that you took the time to go out and locate people and help them because you needed help at one time. you were fortunate have senator boozman could and be an assistance to you. do you want to give us live examples what you've been able to do, just one man out helping others, neighbors resolve these problems. >> any time i see somebody hauling water, i take my time to stop, talk to them, explain my story, give them some insight what they need to do, how they need to speak to senator boozman and get the word out. i think pushing this savings act
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forward, you know what i mean, and getting the financing to get people help. >> you're finding most of the people you talk to -- i'm familiar with rogers. rogers is a major city. it doesn't take more than five minutes outside of rogers to be in some pretty remote areas. >> yeah. >> those are the people having problems. i was shocked to find out you did not have a water system when you were within how many miles of rogers? >> we're probably five minutes from downtown rogers. what's ridiculous, i drive past the water treatment plan every day going into town to go to work, to shop, whatever. and on that sign where they treat the water, they are shipping it to washington county, which is a county south of us that has no impact on our little community there. >> and yet you live in a part of the state of arkansas that just has an abundance of water.
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>> i live right by beaver lake. there's over 1200 miles of shore front. >> i'm very familiar with that. >> uh-huh. >> all right. senator booker. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. mr. frazee, thank you very much. really your story is heroic, you're showing what it means to be an american, to be a citizen, to be there for each other. i'm really moved by that. and this is issues that, you know, folks are not in communities like arkansas but in many parts of this country, including my state of new jersey. i know that we're all in this fight together. as much as i'm making jokes about being a jerseyan, this is the united states of america. so i recently decided to go outside of our state to try to draw attention to some of these urgent crises. according to the census, half a million homes that lack access to hot and cold running water. most people don't even realize that. they don't have water running to a bathtub or shower or working
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flushing toilet. this is including 11,000 homes in new jersey. again, this is a national problem that we're all in together of the federal government, we formed this government for the common defense, for the common security. for us to be a developed nation and not have this is astonishing to me. so i went a few weekends ago to rural alabama to visit low income african-american communities. i found out less than half the population is connected to a municipal water system. famous counties like loudoun county, the bridge they marched through. many families there had no septic systems, no sewage systems. they had septic systems that failed because of the type of soil they had until they had raw
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sewage. i was stunned to see just raw sewage running behind people's homes. so in addition to the water supply and harming the local environment, what most people don't know, and i found this out when i sat down with folks that talk about i'm a ranking subcommittee in africa to talk about tropical diseases, the scientist told me did you know we still have these diseases in the united states of america. i said new york city, that can't be. you see parasites we think of in developing nations such as hook worm in the united states in poor communities. it's stunning to me because of our lack of water infrastructure. so this is an outrageous environmental injustice no child should be growing up in a situation disproportionately affecting poor communities. i saw in alabama historically african-american communities. mike, your advocacy is profoundly important. i want to thank you. it's important to your community. really what you're doing is
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bringing a light to the problem that is critically important to the nation as a whole. mr. kricun, andy, you're a friend. i just want your commend on something we almost got to the finish line. chairman inhofe, i'm sorry he left because i was going to heap praise upon him for being such a good partner of mine on so many issues. many people confuse us because we look so much alike in the senate. i am the robin to his batman. last year with his help i was able to get water infrastructure investment trust fund bill and water utility workforce development program into the senate passed a bill, something i was very proud of and was done thanks to leadership of senator inhofe and some republican partners, strong bipartisan support. unfortunately those provisions were stripped out of the final bill by house republicans. as i continue to work with my colleagues to move these important programs across the finish line, i just was
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wondering if you could describe very briefly how the trust fund initiative and workforce development programs could have helped camden community. could have helped our country. >> thank you, senator. there's no doubt, first of all, in our industry, a tsunami, people ready to retire and leave the industry. people for example, 50 to 0% available for retirement. we med to look for replacements. that's the case across the country, baby boomer retire. most wastewater are in economic disrfd communities. that's why it was put there. it became that way. no one wants to live next to wastewater treatment plant. we have to look beyond neighboring communities and workers because they don't have skills and training. if we could develop workforce program, that would be a tremendous opportunity to actually have people who work and live in our neighborhoods, work in our water treatment
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plants, be the replacement workers and bring up neighborhoods and communities. i think it's a tremendous opportunity. that's urban or rural. i think it's a tremendous opportunity. water treatment jobs, wastewater, treatment, good solid jobs and a real scarcity of replacement workers. often in a community where people need jobs most. the infrastructure trust program is absolutely necessary as well. our d plus grade isn't acceptable. it's only going to get worse with time. so i strongly support your efforts and the bipartisan efforts and hope you're successful this time, senator. last thing i want to say, with regard to poor communities across the country, rural and urban, you're absolutely right. that's why this peer to peer effort is important. there are utilities willing to share knowledge and resource. the help we need is to identify the small towns and cities that lack capacity so a match made with them and systems. so that's help we could really
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use from the federal government. >> i appreciate that. chairman, this is one of those perfect examples why we in the united states of america, whether you live in rural community, urban community, we have a common pain and we must join in in a united purpose. this is united states of america. this is a shame on our nation we have children growing up in rural or poor communities that have such a reality. i'm gratful to the committee trying to rectify this. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator booker. as you notice the chair has moved again, once again. senator inhofe had to leave to go to another committee. senator boozman will be back shortly. i have to agree senator booker is correct. he and senator inhofe look a lot alike with the exception senator inhofe's age shows a little more occasionally. we notice the likeness there. you know, i'm from south dakota. we've got the same challenges-of-body else does when it comes to water and water
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systems. we've got nine separate native american tribes on reservations there. water quality is critical there. yet they are in rural areas. we still struggle for high quality water there. we call it rural water systems. it sounds a lot like what you've been looking at in arkansas in terms of well water and so forth. in our particular case we've got missouri river that runs through the center of the state with great high-quality water and we've got a very efficient way of being able to differ quality water if we can get it to locations. i agree it's very, very important. we see the ability of states when they have the resources to coordinate with rural water systems and provide individuals in local areas who really want to include the quality of life the opportunity to do so. we're sitting right now at a time in which we've got very low interest rates. long-term low interest rates. probably a real opportunity to look at the ability to bring
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assets together and extend in a long-term payback period the opportunity to invest in infrastructure. i most certainlily think rural water systems, along with -- and rehabilitation of existing municipal water systems, this is a real opportunity to look at it. in thinking back, mr. frazee, in terms of the story that you've told, i'm just going to begin this by saying when i first met my wife jeanne she lived in a rural area near lake preston, south dakota, and they hauled water at that time. they hauled it once a week into sa cistern and hauled it back out again. what that meant is the quality of water wasn't the best. everything stained, pipes would fill up, they would get clogged and everything else. i remember her dad, who is now in his early 90s was the first president of a rural water system there and they coordinated in that group to put together over a period of years
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a rural water system called kenbrook, which is still in existence today and growing rapidly. they could not have done it if not an organization. local money in and revenue in, lay out the plans but also to go to local lenders to begin with, to borrow some money, and then to go back in through federal resources and state resources in order to borrow long-term to improve the quality of life. what it meant was you could actually have pipes that work. what it meant was you had high-quality drinking water. it meant you had livestock that had high quality water. it also meant you could have a thing like the dishwasher in the house besides the husband after dinner. it meant dishwashers would actually work, the quality of the water. i think it's important we talk about the need for this type of infrastructure as being on the top, though it's right along with highways, roads, and bridges. i'm just curious, i'd really like to know, and mr. frazee in
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terms of how they helped to finance for your part of arkansas, was it a case where they were able to coin and help with assistance and were the folks that were the recipients of the water systems that you had, did they have a monthly water bill they paid as well at this stage of the game? is that the way it worked? >> senator rounds, they funded all the projects. you had to pay back. veterans were discounted. you know what i mean? and me, i just have a payment like everybody else. you know what i mean? very minimal, no interest. it's great. >> was it organized through the state or through a local district, do you know? >> it was -- i want to say it was organized through the water well trust. >> okay. >> they fountain all the lending or supported all the lending. >> thank you. mr. kricun.
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>> yes, senator. >> just curious with regard to the financing and so forth you've used in the past, can you share a little bit about whether or not in this particular case i liked the idea of the states being in charge of the operations. if we need the financial backing and so forth we look at the federal level. i like the idea of block grants. i like the idea of having access to guaranteed loans and so forth but revenue bonds and so forth. can you talk a little about the kind of financing you've seen and the success you've had and what the challenges were? >> yes. thank you, senator rounds. so we basically were able to optimize wastewater treatment plant and install new equipment expressly through the state revolving fund in new jersey, new jersey infrastructure trust. because of the operation and maintenance cost of the new equipment was lower than the old equipment, less maintenance, because it's newer, lower electricity cost, more innovative, our operation and maintenance members savings were
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greater than annual debt service. infrastructure, srf, the difference between go and no-go. interest rates at 5 and 6%, we were at 1%. annual were lower than savings. as a result we built entire wastewater treatment plant plus helped city of camden combine sewer system, too. camden one of the poorer in the nation holding our rate, $334, $352 in 17 but mainly through some internal efficiency but mainly through srf. the state revolving fund, the grants were great but state revolving program really is a very successful and helpful way to help us with our mission. >> i couldn't agree more. i think it's a very important tool for us to make sure it's maintained into the future. thank you. >> thank you, senator. >> my time has expired. senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman and thank you to the witnesses for being here. i was struck by mr. ellis's comment that he can remember
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wooden piping coming out of the ground. i represent and have the same memories from my days doing water utility rate cases. it's still not so great. here is a piece of pipe that came out of the kingston water district. the manager, henry meyer, sent me that to remind me of what was doing on. that site dps back to the 20s. as you can see, it's filled in pretty good. this is from old kingston village. this piece of pipe comes from kingstown road. as can you see from the side, this is plastic piping. this is much more recent. but check it out. look at the size of the remaining aperture in that pipe. so these pieces of pipe are kind
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of touchable evidence of the problems that we have and the scope of the possible infrastructure solution we could have. i wanted to flag that particular situation. i also wanted to flag another situation that is more a problem in our coastal states than in other states, and that is that -- let me show you what this is. this is a map of rhode island. it's been -- this the northern part of rhode island, upper narragansett bay, our capital city providence is right here. this is warwick neck. this is bristol and warren. what we have here is the latest information from our coastal resources management council about sea level rise happening along our coasts. and here is the existing bay.
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light blue is actually land now. right now that's land. but what we're looking at in the light blue is all these areas are expected to be flooded and under water by 2100 if we don't get ahead of what's happening with sea level rise. the state of rhode island turns into rhode island archipelago. warrick neck becomes an island and on and on you go. behind all this blue of flooded land, there will be a zone of potential storm flood zones and velocity zones that interfere with property there as well. we are looking at a potential economic catastrophe if we don't get ahead of this. the point of this hearing, right
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about here, the town of warren has its sewage treatment facility. if you live near the coast, if you're building sewage treatment facilities, you're building them right along the coastline. you want that gravity assist bringing water and sewage down to the treatment plant. so when you start to look at this, you're starting to look at significant replacement requirements or hardening and protection requirements for our infrastructure. we're not even really talking about that. i know we're not even talking about that cause sea level rise is climate change and we're not allowed to talk about climate change in an effective or meaningful way. but this is coming. the infrastructure along these coastal areas needs to be a part of our conversation. if mr. krunic or mr. ellis would like to comment on those, we
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have a minute or two to respond. either to my good old nearly filled in pipes or to the coastal predicament for water infrastructure. >> thank you very much, senator, i'll try to reply to both. with regard to infrastructure, d grade for water infrastructure. here is the thing. an emergency repair after a failure costs five to seven times more than a planned replacement. it's not as though you can make the pipe longer. once it fails, it will be much more costly, not to mention risk if it happened in an emergency. >> if you had a responsible program you'd get five times as much done rather than waiting around for it to fail. >> thank you, that's exactly right. in new jersey we spoke of climate history. in 2012 we were already -- our treatment prants on the coast were already inundated. billions of gallons of raw sewage into the river, atlantic ocean and passaic river.
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that's how the climate was five years ago. even if it doesn't worsen, big infrastructure gap we have to meet. what we're trying to do green infrastructure to capture stormwater, green energy to improve resiliency against power outages and hardening of our plan itself to make us less vulnerable to the climate as it is. i think no climate change is controversial. i do believe the climate will worsen. >> it's not really controversial, it's just politically controversial. >> even if it doesn't worsen, we have a gap now we should be willing to correct. if we're correcting that nourks we can also look at projections like the river supposed to rise inches in the next years. the gap now but projections ahead to be safe and protect us from the future. >> thank you. my time has expired so i suppose i should leave it there. >> thank you, senator whitehouse and turn it back over. i would ask one moment of privilege, senator whitehouse, he has been a champion for the issues surrounding the changes that are occurring in rhode
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island and around rhode island. i would suggest if there's one area of agreement among everyone, whether or not we think that the current plans for how we slow down changes in the climate, the one thing we recognize is that these changes are occurring. i think that brings about a very important discussion point, which is how do we go about addressing the needs which he has so continuously and eloquently spoken with regards to what it does his state and other places along the coast. i think that's an area of agreement that we will find among all of this. >> i look forward to exploring that. >> absolutely. absolutely. thank you. >> senator boozman, you're up and chairing. >> thank you. and thank you for sitting in. i poll guys, i'm in a situation where, you know, we desperately wanted to get this hearing done. we had to reschedule. all of a sudden they decided to have a vote on the appropriations committee.
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so i've been down having to vote on the agriculture and then energy and water. there's not very many things that i have to do but those are things you simply have to do. in fact, the reason that we've had mixed attendance on both sides is there's a commerce hearing doing on as we speak. then also a number of people on this committee are also on the appropriation committee. so it is what it is. but we do appreciate you being here. i just have a couple of questions, really of you, mike. in your testimony you discussed the hardships of having to hall water and check water quality every day. i think the film was excellent that summed up. tell us a little bit how that has made your life easier on a day-to-day basis. >> it gives me a lot of time to spend with my family, free time to do other things than having
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to worry about hauling water. i mean, it's freed up a bunch of time. i can't thank you enough or the water well it trust for helping my area out. >> again, just in final follow-up to that, you are able to get help in the sense, you know, finding out who to contact. how do we do a better job? what would you suggest as far as outreach so that other people in the situation that you were in, how do we make it easier for them to know there is help available? >> i think the savings act is -- needs to be pushed by the usda and epa. word needs to be out and we need to get the financing to help out areas like the area that i live in. i mean, there's no funding there. we're kind of looked past.
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>> very good. now turn to senator cardin, who has been a great champion on the water issues. he and i had the opportunity to serve. i was his couple congresses ago and he's just done a tremendous job in this particular area. >> mr. chairman, i just wanted to come by and compliment your leadership and chairmanship of this subcommittee. one of the most productive sessions in congress is when the two of us on this subcommittee work together and i really do appreciate your commitment to water infrastructure. my staff has told me that most of the points that i wanted to get response from witnesses have already been made and i thank you. our chairman has taken the leadership on additional tools to modernize our water infrastructure. in maryland, i could tell you about major water main breaks everyday. i could tell you about when river road in montgomery county was a river and people had to be
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rescued through helicopters. i can tell you about the washington beltway being closed as a result of water main breaks. i can talk to you about parts of maryland having to be evacuated because of a water main break, downtown baltimore having details because of water main breaks. that's all since i've been in the senate so we have major, major problems, i could also tell you about one day, mr. chairman, finding out from the public works in baltimore that they discovered a pipe that was still being used that was made out of wood. so we got some really hold systems in maryland that need tremendous attention. of course, one of the great challenges for water infrastructure is that it's hidden until there's a break and of course we're wasting so much water everyday. so much energy everyday and there are public health risks, no question, about safe drinking water. so yes we have existing tools. we have municipal financing.
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we have tax-exempt bonds, we have revolving funds. we have the initiative that the chairman has taken the leadership on for additional ways that we can deal with the planni planning. all these are important programs, we've also joined together as a congress to try to increase the amount of moneys that are made available under these tools which is -- we recognize the budgets are tough but we also recognize there's a bipartisan desire to increase the amount of money we put into infrastructure in this country including water infrastructure. so those are extremely positive signs and i wanted to come by and tell you we'll look for every creative way we can to give you additional opportunities and tools in order to deal with it. and the last point i would make, this also involves another one of my passions, which is the chesapeake bay and our environment because as we deal with water infrastructure, how we deal with the issues, it also
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involves the environment. so there's many many reasons why we need to look for creative ways and there are several initiatives, none of which are partisan and we really need to continue to make that progress. the water resources development act last year made significant progress in that regard. a lot of the bills that members of in committee worked on were incorporated in the final bill. some were pulled out in the house and i thank our chairman because we're working together to get those provisions moving in this congress that we're not able to get done in the last congress to deal with water infrastructure. so thank the witnesses and let you know that this is an extremely high priority for all of us on this committee and it's great to be on the committee for many reasons but one of the principle reasons is that we have some incredible members that i work with, including the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee and i thank them both for their leadership on this issue.
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>> thank you so much and we do appreciate your leadership and as you point out, we have a good committee that's working in a very bipartisan way to sort these things out in the road that mike lives on, that area, you know, it ee's republicans, s democrats, and who cares? it's just the idea of providing the service that people desperately need. >> mr. chairman, i just want to point out, my reasons for popping in and out is that the senate foreign relations committee where i am ranking is holding hearings on important nominations and i just wanted to come by and i apologize for not being here. >> and appreciate you pointing that out. i've not been here most of the time either because of appropriations. i'm told that senator gillibrand is on the line so we'll wait just a few minutes for her. but do y'all have any comments?
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>> i'd like to respond to one of the questions that senator whitehouse mentioned when he held up his prop of the full pipe. >> sure. >> one thing to note is that when those pipes fill up with sediment or whatever, you lose the original design capacity of that pipe and so as we think about infrastructure, we're talking about building new things but just the basic maintenance of going in and cleaning out the pipes is also something a lot of communities can't afford, aren't doing, whatever, so they're losing design capacity and the solution is to just repair the existing system. that same phenomenon is also occurring on private property. a lot of what we've talked about today is public infrastructure with the exception of mike's situation in needing to build wells for private homes. in an urban environment, the biggest issue on private properties is the lateral lines that connect your home to the municipal -- the pipeline, right? and it's in those lines where we have lots of lots of older pipes, either filled like that or pipes with lead in them from
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by gone days when we used to do that and you've got about 30 feet for every private property out there and who knows what's going on in these homes, whether that pipe is cracked, whether lead is leeching out of that private pipe. now, there have been a couple communities in wisconsin and illinois that have used the srf program to put money into the hands of private property owners to take those pipes out and that project of tearing up your lawn, taking out that old pipe, putting in a new pipe can be $20,000, $30,000 per home. in a low income community, you can't ask a homeowner to do that. they probably don't have the money and if they are they're saving it up for something else so finding a way to use the srf to tackle projects on private property is something we're only starting to grapple with, whether that's well installation or fixing these lateral line issues going into the house and then issues coming back out of cracks in the sewage and storm water where you have stuff leeching out into lawns and
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things like that. figuring out how to use these public resources or public/private partnerships to work on private properties is our next big challenge because a lot of infrastructure out there is not publicly owned. >> thank you very much. >> sure thing. >> thank you, senator, as you've discussed, infrastructure needs to be improved in order to protect the public health and the environment for safe drinking water and to protect against combined sewage overflows and flooding and doing so will not only be necessary to protect the health of the environment but also result in job creation not only for construction but also maintenance of the new systems so i think it's a win win, i agree with what josh said about the efficacy of the maintenance of the existing collection systems. we did a study whereby cleaning the pipes out on a regular basis it improved them by 30%, that's a huge win. but the problem is economically stressed community, urban or
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rural, sometimes lack the capacity so that's why i think in addition to public/private partnerships, public/public partships where utilities assist each other with with resources would be helpful getting the most out of our industry and infrastructure. thank you. >> senator gillibrand, thank you so much on a very, very busy day. i've had to 34isz a good part of the hearing because of other committee duties. i know you're in the same situation. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman, thank you, madam ranking member. in your testimony you talk about how after superstorm sandy over 10 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage flooded streets and homes. this raises the point to think about ril dwroens the esilience of climate change when making investments to repair water pipes. we need to think ahead. for example, we have water pipes
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in new york that are over 100 years old and nearly half of new york city's water pipes were built before world war ii. we should be thinking about the next 50 to 100 years from now when we design projects today. what should we do to improve about how we make decisions about water infrastructure investments to take into account extreme weather, sea level rise and other climate-related impacts. >> thank you, senator, one thing we need to do is make sure we're more resilient and less vulnerable to severe events. hurricane sandy occurred five years ago so that's already climate history and it was proven to be inadequate. if the climate worsens, that gap will widen so one of the things we're doing is trying to implement green energy programs so that 100% off the grid. solar panels, installing a combined power system to capture gas and our goal is to be off the grid by 2020. so reducing reliance on the electric grid would be very
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important, number one. number two, green infrastructure in combined sewer communities is very important so you're sucking up the storm water and preventing it from getting into the combined sewer. in addition, the sfruinfrastruc is rating a d-plus. it ought to be replaced with the possibility of climate worsening and being sized appropriately to 345 make sure it's appropriate for not only today but the future. >> over the past several years we have seen drinking water emergencies across the united states where many lives have been put at risk because of contamination from toxic chemicals. the most visible of these was in, obviously, flint michigan. but closer to home for me, like people in upstate new york have been experiencing nothing short of a tragedy because their drinking water has been tainted with the chemical pfoa. we've seen in the newburgh and on long island so when we talk about water infrastructure we need to talk about how we're going to keep our drinking water
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safe. this is a real challenge for small communities like hoosac falls. how do we do a better job of helping communities test contaminates like pfoa in their drinking water systems? >> i think the usda and epa need to address those issues in small communities like where i'm from. and i mean help from our government, federal government. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator, for example, in the instance of lead, i think lead awareness is very important. we not only need to make sure we're treating water at the source, the drinking water treatment plants itself but making sure the conduits from the plant to the home and the internal plumbing within the home are subject to lead
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plumbing. most homes built prior to 1980 could have led solder so even if the water coming from the treatment plant is safe, children -- the water may be contaminated with lead by sitting overnight and lead pluming so i think lead awareness is making sure they're aware of filters, running the water for 30 to 45 seconds to reduce the risk could mitigate a significant portion of that lead issue. with regard to contaminates and chemicals, i agree that it's important to have federal and state assistance and public utilities nearby, if there's a larger city nearby that might lend resources to smaller communities and leverage that, i think we need to have small communities, whether urban or rural, as much assistance as possible. >> thank you. mr. ellis? >> in terms of testing, the testing that needs to occur is both at source water, so rivers, ponds, streams, but also as it's coming out of the tap. so it's such a distributed system you need lots of people
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out doing it. i think this issue of water testing, point-based testing is a great opportunity for schools and citizen scientists and that could be through programs and noaa or somewhere else to get resources to school programs or other organizations who can go out on a consistent basis with established protocols for testing, collect the data and send it into the proper water management officials. on your previous question if i could for two seconds, one of the issues we have with planning infrastructure to be more resilient -- and this is not a coastal issue or an inland issue -- we have great divergence between states but also within states about the actual data that they're using to project how much rainfall we might have or what climate conditions might be. i know in illinois we have some communities who are using data from the 1960s that was projecting out weather events. all of that was based on information they collected before the 1960s so as precipitation patter eterns chf
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you're using data from the ''60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, you're not able to predict weather events. we're always looking backwards because that's the precipitation data. so getting greater consistency to get everyone to update and use the latest data on precipitation projections in particular would be helpful but then greater consistency across communities so we could get best practices on how we size and build this infrastructure across states. we can't be building stuff for 2060 using stuff from 1960 but we are. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you. >> thanks so much. >> senator duckworth? >> well, just i want to thank the chairman for having this hearing. this is incredibly useful and i think eye opening for many people. one of the things we've not touched on that bears further looking into is the public infrastructure system,
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especially when it comes to public schools. there are many, many public schools in this country built well before the 1980s and we should talk about the water that sits in the schools overnight, you can go into a school and test the water, and this has happened in chicago where you have one drinking fountain that fails the lead test and one that passes and until you replace the entire piping system within the school itself, you're never going to resolve the problem. and this is going to be a problem for rural communities, communities that don't have the resources and high tax base so this reinforces the need for real infrastructure investment and i want to thank the chairman for bringing this to everyone's attention. thank you. >> no, thank you, and again thank you for pointing out, this is a -- as the witnesses have and even the witnesses here where you've got very urban area, very rural area and essentially with the same problems. so we appreciate you very much,
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senator duckworth and your staff for the job they've done and helping us get ready for this. appreciate my staff. thank you all for coming and testifying. this has been just a very helpful hearing as we go forward. and with that, mentioning that the record will be open for two weeks for any addition, the meeting is adjourned. >> thank you. [ indistinct audio ] [ i d [ indistinct audio ]
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[ indistinct audio ] president trump has signed new sanctions against russia. the legislation is aimed at punishing moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and its military aggression in ukraine and syria. president trump signed the bill although he called it seriously flawed. the law also imposes financial sanctions against iran and north korea. on c-span, american history tv is in prime time all this week with our original series "landmark cases." this evening we'll look at the dred scott decision. in 1857, the supreme court declared in a 7-2 decision that all blacks were not and could never become citizens of the united states. american history tv in prime time begins at 8:00 p.m.
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eastern. c-span spoke with transportation secretary elaine chao and she talked about goals for her department and her prior work as peace corps director and labor secretary. you can see the interview friday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. sunday on "in-depth," american educator, tea party activist, author and attorney krisanne hall is our guest. >> for different reasons, everybody has an idea that the federal government is out of control and then the most asked question i get as we teach, what do you suppose that is? what do we do about it. but if we've been teaching the constitution properly for the last 150 years we would know what to do. >> she's if author of several books including "essential stories for junior patriots," "in defense of liberty" and "sovereign duty." during our live three hour
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conversation we'll take your phone calls, tweets and facebook questions. watch "in-depth" with krisanne hall sunday live from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book tv on c-span 2. a senate subcommittee held a hearing regarding the nation's fishery laws. officials from noaa and the new england fishery management council pro pridvided recommends and addressed climate change and overfishing. [ indistinct audio ). good morning. the subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries and the coast guard will now come to order. today's hearing is the first in a series with the long-overdue issue of the reauthorization of the magnusson stevens fishery conservation and management act

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