High quality drinking water "critical"
In his written testimony submitted for the hearing entitled "Drinking Water System Improvement Act and Related Issues of Funding, Management, and Compliance Assistance Under the Safe Drinking Water Act," Kropelnicki, President and CEO of California Water Service Group and President of the NAWC, discussed efforts to improve the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
"We are all working toward the same outcome – safe, reliable, and high-quality drinking water, which is critical to every person, community, and business in this country," said Kropelnicki.
Kropelnicki’s testimony addressed two critical areas that can help improve the drinking water systems across the country while also ensuring that limited federal dollars are spent efficiently and wisely.
"Unfortunately, aging and deteriorating water systems threaten economic vitality and public health, and communities nationwide are faced with massive fiscal challenges to replace critical water and wastewater infrastructure and effectively manage their systems," Kropelnicki said.
"After all, water systems are one of the most expensive assets for a community to maintain, and many municipally-owned utilities simply cannot afford to properly maintain, let alone improve and modernize, their infrastructure."
For a community to maintain and improve the condition of its infrastructure, and to ensure its long-term safety and reliability, water utilities should be expected, at a minimum, to manage their assets based on a process where adequate repair, rehabilitation and replacement are fully reflected in management decisions and fully accounted for in water rates.
Kropelnicki went on to say all water suppliers in the country — whether they are government- or privately-owned — are public service providers, and their customers are comprised of taxpayers who fund programs such as the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.
In contrast, the current total federal appropriation for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs is approximately $2 billion annually.
Kropelnicki concluded his testimony stating our current water infrastructure crisis has been in the making for several decades, and it may take several decades to change the direction and right the ship.
And on May 3, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a report that 77 million people — roughly a quarter of the U.S. population — spread across all 50 states were served by water systems reporting violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015.