Vermont's congressional delegation announced on Tuesday a combined $18.97 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Vermont's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).
The CWSRF program is a federal-state partnership that provides communities a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. The DWSRF is a federal-state partnership to help ensure safe drinking water.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said: "These EPA clean water programs are so important to towns in Vermont and to communities across the country. A high priority for me on the Appropriations Committee continues to be to secure strong funding for both the EPA Clean Water and EPA Drinking Water programs this year, and our success in this year's budget is reflected in these investments coming to Vermont."
"I'm very pleased Vermont will receive roughly $19 million in much-needed funding from the EPA to improve drinking water and wastewater systems," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which authorized the EPA State Revolving Fund programs. "At a time when families in parts of Vermont are struggling with PFAS contamination and untreated or partially treated sewage being dumped into our waterways, these funds will help modernize our aging water infrastructure. However, if we are serious about addressing the huge backlog of water system projects in Vermont and across the country, we must make a significant and prolonged investment on the federal level. Instead of cutting rural water infrastructure funding like the Trump administration has proposed, we should dramatically increase support for these types of critically important projects."
"America has a 21st century economy supported by a 20th century infrastructure," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "These critical investments are necessary to rebuild our infrastructure and ensure Vermonters have access to safe drinking water. They will create jobs, provide much-needed assistance to Vermont municipalities, and decrease our impact on the environment."
While Vermont is in a better position than the nation as a whole, crucial improvements must be made to the state's water infrastructure: 2 percent of Vermonters drink water from a system with known health violations. During the next 20 years, according to estimates, Vermont must invest $510 million to upgrade small community water systems, alone.
In terms of wastewater, there are tens of thousands of sewer overflows throughout the United States annually. Over the next 25 years, an estimated $271 billion is needed to address immediate needs and increase the capacity of treatment plants. In Vermont in recent years, millions of gallons of untreated wastewater and storm water have been released into Lake Champlain and its tributaries.
These funds to Vermont were made possible by the bipartisan budget agreement negotiated earlier this year by Leahy and others. Earlier in this Congress, Sanders and Leahy also helped draft a $1 trillion proposal to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure. The "Blueprint to Rebuild America's Infrastructure" includes funding for water systems as well as roads, bridges, railways, broadband networks, VA hospitals, schools and airports throughout the United States. In the House, Welch helped draft the LIFT America Act, a comprehensive 21st Century infrastructure package that invests in in broadband, health care, the electric grid, renewable energy, and contains $22.56 billion for drinking water infrastructure.