Rick Farrell Executive Director Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities Before the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations March 16, 2006 Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to provide testimony to the Subcommittee requesting an increase to $1.35 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), a program within the Environmental Protection Agency that supports State and tribal efforts to improve water quality. The CWSRF provides grants to States to capitalize their state revolving funds, giving communities access to capital to finance wastewater infrastructure needs. In the past two decades, few federal programs have proven as effective in realizing their intended goal as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The CWSRF provides a sustainable source of funding to protect and restore rivers, streams and other water bodies. This assistance amounts to more than double the Federal investment as funding is increased through state match, bonds, loan repayments and interest earnings. The numbers tell the story. Total assistance to communities from 1988 to 2005 was $52.7 billion. CWSRF below-market interest loans have saved communities on average 21% in costs for a total of $18.4 billion in interest savings. For a typical $10 million project with a CWSRF loan, the saving is $3.3 million and this saving is often what makes it possible for a community to move forward with a project. The benefits to the environment are compelling. CWSRF-funded projects reduce the flow of pollutants to water bodies thus keeping them clean and safe for swimming, fishing, and drinking water supply. CWSRF financing most often helps communities maintain aging sewage treatment infrastructure. The affordable financing provided by the CWSRF allows communities to address their most pressing water pollution problems. CWSRF loans have safeguarded water quality and public health for over 100 million utility customers. By any measure, the CWSRF is an outstanding success story. However, the need for water infrastructure far outstrips what the CWSRF can accomplish at current funding levels. Costs are increasing while available resources are decreasing. Assuming a modest 3 percent annual inflation rate, the annual gap in clean water infrastructure financing is projected to reach $21 billion by 2025. In the face of this escalating shortfall, funding support for the CWSRF has been declining. The current and previous Administration singled out the CWSRF for large cuts and, unfortunately, in the past two years Congress has agreed to significant reductions. FY 2005 saw a $250 million decrease and in FY 2006 a cut of another $200 million. FY 2007 threatens another funding reduction with the Administration proposing a funding level of $688 million. This represents a 22% reduction from the previous year and, if approved, would result in CWSRF funding having been cut nearly 50% over the last three years. Reductions of this magnitude have severe implications for the CWSRF program and the continued realization of its goals. To illustrate what the CWSRF will be unable to fund due to reduced capacity, a telling comparison can be made between the Administration’s FY 2007 budget proposal of $688 million annually ending in FY 2011 and steady-state funding in nominal dollars at the FY 2003 level - $1.35 billion annually. The following chart shows the number of projects that would not be able to access CWSRF funding each year as a result of the proposed budget reductions. Annual Projects Lost 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 The cumulative effect over this same ten year period is displayed in the next chart. At the end of this time period,, over four thousand projects nationwide will have been turned away from the CWSRF. Cumulative Projects Lost 4,500 4,000 3,500 3,000 2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 This loss of CWSRF financing translates into a future bill being handed to consumers of around $9.7 billion. This is a bill that they will continue to pay over the next twenty to thirty years. Small states and smaller communities are especially hard hit by reductions in CWSRF funding. For small population, rural states, CWSRF low cost financing is critical to water infrastructure development. Almost two-thirds of CWSRF assistance agreements have been to small communities – populations of less than 10,000. If funding is not available, these communities often lack other realistic options and cannot address their water quality needs. The population is usually too small to fund the cost of a project through the rate structure and these communities do not have ready access to the bond markets and cannot command competitive rates. The CWSRF is a very important tool for less populated states and communities and the impact of CWSRF cuts particularly detrimental. Any cutback in CWSRF funding also has a disproportionate effect on the States that leverage. Leveraging is very beneficial for States in which loan demand outpaces available capitalization grants. It can increase the amount of upfront loan capacity by two to three times to meet current demand and accelerate project funding. When combined, SRF capitalization grants and borrowed funds can significantly increase near term loan capacity and allow more projects to be funded sooner. Leveraging is possible because of the availability of capitalization grants that do not need to be repaid. To the extent that capitalization grants are cut, the ability of States to leverage, and meet their funding demands, is hampered. The negative impact for leveraging states, in terms of funds available to commit to projects, will be two or three- fold since the level of funds a State can raise in the bond market is a function of the amount of capitalization grant it receives. States seeking to keep pace with rising demand through leveraging will see these efforts significantly curtailed if the contemplated cut in CWSRF funding is enacted. With the huge documented need for water infrastructure, that will only increase in the future, it is critically important that funding for the CWSRF be restored at least to the $1.35 billion level. It is difficult to see how the CWSRF can continue as the primary financing mechanism for wastewater infrastructure if funding levels continue the drastic decline experienced in the last two years and proposed for this fiscal year. I would urge the Subcommittee to signal its continued commitment to clean water by restoring funding for this invaluable program. Thank you. The Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities is a national association representing state and local government organizations involved in the financing of water infrastructure.