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Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1262, the Water Quality Investment Act. I commend my House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar for introducing this vital legislation that makes much-needed investments to improve water quality and better ensure safe, clean water for communities throughout the country.
The central focus of the bill is reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans and grants to local communities for construction of wastewater treatment facilities and other water pollution abatement projects. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund was last reauthorized in 1987, although the program has been funded every year, albeit at inadequate levels. For years, the amount of available funding has been far below the demand for funds from local governments.
Much of the clean water infrastructure in our nation is rapidly approaching or has already exceeded its projected life. This aging infrastructure must be repaired or replaced soon. The gap between wastewater infrastructure needs and current levels of spending has been estimated at between $3.2 billion to $11.1 billion a year.
If the authorized levels of funding provided in this bill are appropriated, Hawaii will see a four-fold increase in the annual level of funding received under the Clean Water State Revolving Fund--from $5.3 million in FY2009 to an estimated $21 million each year from FY2010 to FY2014. In addition to improving our infrastructure, this amount of funding could create or sustain some 700 jobs a year in Hawaii.
This funding is critically needed in our state. Just this week, I met with members of the four county councils in my district. All have concerns about the condition of wastewater infrastructure in their districts and the inability of local governments to fund the level of investment that is urgently needed. Lack of this funding is having serious environmental consequences and, in some areas, is actually preventing development of much-needed housing.
I urge my colleague to support this bill, which will stimulate employment and all of our local economies while protecting the environment.
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