News Feature | December 17, 2017

Santa Fe Weighs Ability To Provide Clean Water Among EPA Cuts

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

santafe.reg

As the Trump administration works to reduce spending by the U.S. EPA, some states fear how cuts could affect their water and wastewater treatment work.

Many states depending on EPA programs like State Revolving Funds (SRFs) to propel their efforts on things like drinking water infrastructure and wastewater treatment technology. A new report from New Mexico demonstrates the issues that could arise if these programs are cut back.

“Over the last five years, grants from the EPA have brought more than $111 million to the state for environmental programs such as water- and air-pollution control, oversight of drinking-water systems and cleanup of contaminated sites,” The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. “According to a review by the Environmental Defense Fund, a New York-based nonprofit, EPA cuts could hurt such programs in the state.”

President Trump’s administration has sought to cut roughly 30 percent in federal spending across the agency, citing unnecessary overreach and austerity as critical reasons to reshape the EPA, per the New Mexican. Congressional appropriations introduced in October would lead to several EPA programs and grants getting reduced by about 10 percent.

But not all politicians are on board, especially those whose states’ water quality funds could be directly impacted with a loss of federal help.

“U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, expressed outrage about the appropriations bill, saying in an emailed statement that it ‘included unacceptable cuts,’” per the New Mexican. “Udall said he intended to introduce an amendment to the bill, which would have increased grant funding for clean-water and drinking-water programs and would have restored funding for chemical safety research, but he didn’t have the opportunity because of how the bill was handled.”

While these cuts would take place across EPA programs, the water sector is one area that is in particularly dire need of funding and action.

“The E.P.A. is looking to decrease grants that help states monitor public water systems by almost a third, to $71 million from $102 million,” The New York Times reported. “Much of the risk to the country’s water supply stems from its crumbling public water infrastructure: a network of pipes, treatment plants and other facilities built decades ago.”

To read more about how utilities use federal financial program visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Santa Fe- Spanish Influences," Driss & Marrionn © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/