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WASHINGTON, DC – Joe Reardon, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County, testified on behalf of the National League of Cities today before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment about the need for a modern policy framework and resources to invest in our nation’s water infrastructure systems.
Mayor Reardon called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congress to work more effectively with local governments in making cost-effective and affordable investments in water quality.
In discussing a new policy framework for the nation’s water infrastructure system, Reardon reminded the committee that while cities are continuing to find ways to make sure their communities can have clean water, cities face significantly limited financial resources. He also stated that the federal government imposes costly requirements to carry out objectives of the Clean Water Act (CWA) are made without regard to efficacy or prioritization. Given the financial struggles of cities, local governments and citizens “insist on a regulatory approach that prioritizes ratepayer and public investments in a way that will maximize water quality benefits and public health and safety protections,” Reardon said.
Reardon offered up his own city of Kansas City for a pilot study to implement “an approach in which the city and the federal government work together as partners, not as adversaries.” He suggested exploring more diversified and alternative funding mechanisms, rather than relying on cities and citizens to shoulder the financial burden. He suggests a new policy framework “based on principles of affordability and financial capability, while maximizing environmental benefit, to meet the requirements and objectives of the CWA.”
However, implementing policy changes is just one part of addressing the nation’s water infrastructure challenges; opportunities and solutions for local, regional and national infrastructure investment is also a key piece. “Cities cannot continue to thrive as appealing places to live, work and do business if they do not make sustainable infrastructure investments and development a priority,” Reardon noted in his testimony. Ultimately, local governments need substantial capital or other mechanisms for municipal water infrastructure systems to help bridge the gap between current expenditures and needed water infrastructure enhancements in communities.
The National League of Cities is the nation’s oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.