Skip to main content

tv   Hearing on Lead Pipe Replacement Water Infrastructure  CSPAN  April 26, 2022 2:17pm-4:03pm EDT

2:17 pm
hearing on lead pipe replacement improvements to wastewater systems. the senate environment and public works subcommittee and what he hears about contaminants in water systems replacing out due to drinking wastewater infrastructure, and economics the opportunities for disadvantaged communities. >> tried to read a story to a roomful of --
2:18 pm
? >> >> everybody rise. [laughter] [inaudible] >> thank you to you all for today's hearing on descended on friday and because of committee on fisheries, water and wildlife. this hearing will examine one of the most pressing issues for communities in illinois and throughout the nation, what infrastructure. last year, the senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure law, which included the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act. also known as dwwia, 16. a bill that chairman carper, ranking member cato, senator thomas, and myself were going to make a reality. dwwia provides historic investments and programming
2:19 pm
changes to help states, communities and schools fix and upgrade aging water systems to improve water quality, while fostering economic growth and jobs throughout the country. in fact, dwwia it's about significant federal investment in what infrastructure in history, and i am thrilled to see that president biden's budget requests for the full federal funding of all dwwia programs. while this bill is an incredible first step towards clean water for all, our jobs are not done. now we must do the work to ensure that these programming changes are carried out and these critical funds get to the communities that need it the most. there has been a historic lack of investment in what infrastructure, but it's especially so for disadvantaged, small, rural and tribal communities that each have individual challenges when it comes to water infrastructure. our lack of attention to these communities is not acceptable. we must break down barriers for funding to ensure every
2:20 pm
american has access to clean water, no matter their zip code, at the color of their skin, or the size of their wallet. dwwia's goal is to help do just that. the bill reauthorize and enhances the state roughing funds or the egg srfs, which are the most effective tools we have to provide states with federal investments that empower local leaders to modernize water systems, implement that reduction projects, and rebuilt strong water overflow. by lowering non federal cost sharing, increasing the use of grants, and allowing for debt forgiveness, we will help communities access federal dollars that typically struggle to qualify for traditional loans. years of lack of investment and oversight have led towns all across america dislike into disrepair. we have worked with enough states to give these communities a chance at a normal life and finding opportunities like the programs and dwwia can provide discharge. the bill also works to get shovels into the ground and support quality jobs by reauthorizing and streamlining
2:21 pm
financing programs like wifia and srfs. however, with significant funding comes significant responsibility. the states will have to prepare for these programming changes and federal dollars and that is no small feat. one of the significant water infrastructure projects that the states will have to climb for is a national health crisis crisis over led by. as a standard to with the most known that surface lines of any state, and with lead poisoning disproportionately impacting communities of color and low income communities, this causes very near to my heart. the bipartisan infrastructure law provides over 15 billion dollars for president biden's national comprehensive lead service line replacement initiative, and dwwia provide an additional authorizations for more than $700 million for that reduction programs like my voluntary leg testing and removal in schools and childcare facilities program. yes, this national removal of the should it will be a lot of
2:22 pm
work, but it will be worth it to protect our future generations. with the epa's recent srf implementation guidance i'm throughout the city or follow through congress is inflammation intense jonas mall, roland travel communities priority of this water infrastructure program, and we will continue our oversight to ensure that the states deliver on this vision. today we have an excellent lineup of witnesses did provide firsthand knowledge of how these programs work for the communities, any improvements needed, and how the changes that dwwia provided will help them in the future. from permanent brain damage to overflowing sewage, too costly service interruptions, our constituents are now experiencing the harms that result from allowing our drinking water and wastewater systems to each into a state of disrepair. and now is the time to fix this in an efficient at equitable manner. a subcommittee chair, i look forward to today's discussion on best practices to ensure the success of this committee's
2:23 pm
long term goal of providing families in illinois -- [noise] -- and across our nation clean, safe, reliable water. thank you to chairman carper, ranking member capital, and subcommittee ranking member limits for making this a priority for the committee, because it is absolutely a priority for me. i would now like to turn it over to subcommittee ranking member llamas for her opening statement. >> well thank you, madam chairman, and it's so nice to spend time with you again, like we did in the house, and be back with you on this subcommittee. and thanks also to our witnesses for being here. i very much look forward to your testimony and your answers to our questions. at the beginning of this congress last year i was honored to work with senators carper, capital, jack wasn't at this to craft the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act. i'm proud that that product was
2:24 pm
bipartisan and created irresponsible and measured investment in our nation's water infrastructure. that bill passed this committee unanimously and later the full senate by a vote of 89 to 2. because then signed into law as part of the infrastructure and jobs act, providing clean and reliable water in this country is clearly an issue that unites both sides. as important as it is for congress to write and pass legislation, we also have the important job of then following up with oversight to ensure the executive branch fulfills its duties of faithfully executing the law. that's why we are here today. going forward, we need to ensure the epa follows both the letter and the spirit of the law as congress intended. on march 8th of this year, the epa it should implement implementation guidance for
2:25 pm
implementation bill funds implemented to the state of all the fights. my comments and questions today will focus primarily on that memorandum. so, a few key points. the state revolving fights under the clean water act are a reflection of federalism, while congress sets the eligible recipients projects and broad parameters, states were and are intended to be in the driver seat. overtime federal requirements have grown more and more expensive. some call that creeping conditional-ism. the march 8th memorandum worryingly appears to continue this trend. for one example. ups language around states intended use plans is concerning as neither the clean water act nor they save water drinking act if the epa authority of the development of state priority lists. the bottom line is that the epa should not be substituting its
2:26 pm
own priorities, no matter how noble, over that of the states. girl and disadvantaged communities experience different challenges than larger or more urban water systems. lack of a cone economies of scale of scale, however significant they may be, there were income levels, and higher poverty rates, all contribute to added challenges for these communities in. my state of wyoming, 97% of the water systems are small. serving populations of fewer than 10,000 people. nationwide, that rate is 91%. ensuring the epa provides clear defined program requirements well in advance will help the states and communities access infrastructure active funds as congress intended. i believe it is the ultimate goal and shared goal to ensure communities that need to receive resources are the most
2:27 pm
prioritized. public health and safety are enhanced, and that this is done in the most economical and cost efficient manner. in closing, i'm proud of the work of the subcommittee, i'm proud of what it's done on a bipartisan basis, and i look forward to continuing our important oversight work on epa and hopefully others within our jurisdiction as well. thank you, madam chairman, i yield back. >> thank you, senator alarmists. now i would like to turn it over to our very special test, senator booker, who has come today to introduce our first witness, the mayor of the city of newark, new jersey, the honorable, ras baraka. thank you, senator booker, for coming to a subcommittee hearing today. sit up, you may now introduce the witnesses. [laughs] [laughter] he's much shorter than i remember! [laughs] [laughter] >> so first and foremost, i just wanted to thank the chairwoman for the invitation. and i want to thank the chairwoman and the ranking member for your extraordinary work in this area. you will have been the bipartisan cause cagney & lacey
2:28 pm
of -- by the way you are a lot of young staffers who are looking at me with a next year -- cagney & lacey -- but you together have really brought together, in a bipartisan way, critical leadership on infrastructure and your leadership is extraordinary. i [inaudible] just want to thank him for his friendship and partnership on many important things over the years. it's just good to see him here. this is a real pleasure for me. i've been looking forward to this moment all week where i get a chance to introduce somebody i've known for more than two decades now. ras baraka is a special kind of leader he is an activist, an artist. he is one of the more respected leaders in our country when it comes to local leadership. and for a guy that lives still in the central ward of the city of newark, he is my mayor. and his leadership has been a exemplary in a lot of areas that should be noted of and of interest to the committee the
2:29 pm
mayor has given a masters class and in how to take on the crisis of that in in pipes it's extraordinary has a he's a standout. the pa came to newark area, really, with a sense of awe, about what the mayor completed under his leadership in partnership with others and so as you're going to hear a lot of detail new york's new works that service line replacement program, one of newark's largest infrastructure projects to date, has successfully replaced over 23,000 lead service lines. the successful completion of this ambitious three-year project to replace thousands of lead service lines, at no cost to residents, is an example, not just a testimony, really, to the mayor's leadership, but as an example of how local, state and federal officials can come together, develop a comprehensive plan, and address an issue of serious environmental justice, and how
2:30 pm
they, through their work, have created a blueprint for communities working on similar infrastructure projects across the nation. with the passage of our bipartisan infrastructure bill, more of these projects are going to be possible. and i believe the wisdom garnered and demonstrated by mayor baraka is a great way for us to look to what the future can be. it's especially important, though, i want to call out the leadership of essex county executive joe sieve di vincenzo. if you think the count is triple a bond rating to allow the city to move extraordinarily quickly during this time it few years ago i was happy that my team was able to work with a lot of the leadership of this committee and pass legislation that would allow states to access additional federal funds so that more communities around the nation could upgrade their drinking water systems. i know that the city of new
2:31 pm
york will be able to continue to lead the nation in modernizing their water infrastructure, and with substantial and continued federal support like we are seeing. and the flexibility that you all wisely put into the bill will really allow us to make sure that the investments are made that, american jobs are created, and the infrastructure is ultimately completed we have had millions of we know that this is a national crisis that didn't come about ten years, ago 20 years ago. we have literally had millions of children being poisoned over decades in our country, and have failed to step up to this national threat. as you indicated, chairwoman, in your opening remarks, lead is a savage potential killer. it does permanent damage to kids brains. you and i, chairwoman, i'm sure have had the experience of sitting with parents, with your children's brains being adult by led, knowing that the severe
2:32 pm
violence is being done to their children and the urgency that have been exposed as a result of our inaction. this is a great story for the senate to act now. we now have one of the best of the best in america for talking about how we can do this. because, if there's anything that ras baraka has shown, it's that time is of the essence. there is a fierce urgency of the now. money has been allocated, but my biggest concern now is the estimates in cities across this country. some of them, upwards of ten plus years to get those lead service lines were placed. that is unacceptable. we've got to find a way to learn from what's newark, new jersey has done an expedite this, so our children are free from this toxic poison. again, a real cheer and gratitude for the leadership of this committee, on both sides of the aisle. and a lot of gratitude for you allowing me to come here and
2:33 pm
introduce someone who i know and love and really respect, ras baraka. >> the thank, you senator booker. high praise indeed. now, i will turn it over to senator and off will introduce our next witness, susan bodine. >> not to be outdone, by senator booker, let me assure you that i know the individual that i'm going to introduce for more than two decades now. in fact, i saw her in oklahoma just last week. so. susan bodine served as the chief counsel on this committee when i was the chairman, it was in 2015 to 2016.
2:34 pm
she helped us enact the 2015 highway bill, the 2016 water resources bill, the frank rotten burger bill, reform bill. and 65 other bipartisan laws coming from this committee, in only two years. i don't think anyone else can do that. it's something that is, on top of getting all the stuff done, it was enjoyable. you can see why when you meet susan bodine, she has been just a joy to be around for a long period of time. she has a longer history with me then just what i've described. during the bush administration, she was epa's assisted administrator over the super fund program. we are very busy at that time, remember. she went above and beyond directing the epa to not only
2:35 pm
visit the infamous tar creek superfund site, which i wish we could all forget. in northeastern oklahoma. but also, she worked to clean up the water and the land. she also worked with me to write new legislation that helped the residents there. susan, i can't thank you enough for your years of work in the haves and in the senate and up to epa during the bush and trump administration's. where you made sure that epa was serving, i underlined that surveying instead of ruling, over oklahoma. and oklahoma taxpayers. great job, i look forward to your presentation. >> thank you, senator and off. if witnesses would like to take
2:36 pm
the table, receipts. thank you. i would like to introduce our next witness, mr. josh schimmel. mr. schimmel is a board member of the associated -- he is also associated director of the springfield water commission, a commission of retail and wholesale water services to the city of springfield and surrounding communities. the commission serves a population of approximately 250,000 people in the lower pioneer valley of western massachusetts. mr. schimmel and his leadership team manage more than 225 employees, while providing approximately 30 million gallons per day of drinking water and treating 40 million gallons a day of wastewater from the communities they serve. thank you for being here, mr. schimmel. let me see here, i think i need
2:37 pm
to go to you. last but not least, i would like to turn it over to senator lamest to introduce our fourth and final witness. >> thank you chairwoman, i am really happy to introduce to our subcommittee mr. marc pepper, associate director of the rural water systems. the largest utility membership in all of wyoming. in our first subcommittee, our first hearing on the drink water and wastewater act last year, i showed a picture on some of the emergency repair work that his association circuit rioters were doing during a winter blizzard. so, he's not entirely new to this committee. like me, he grew up in cheyenne. in fact, i was in high school with his brother. as we often say, wyoming is just a small town with long streets. mark has over four decades of finance and administration experience. 33 years and senior management and eight years and public accounting. he's been involved in surface and groundwater issues in
2:38 pm
colorado, nevada, texas and wyoming throughout his career. he served three terms on the board of directors of his local water and sewer utility. chairs the casper area economic development joint powers board and has been appointed by the governor to serve on numerous other commissions in task forces. beyond his incredible wealth of knowledge, mark is just a good and kind man, and we are lucky to have him testifying today. madam chairman, when i was state treasurer i served on the state loan and investment board. we were the board in wyoming that approved safe drinking water act srf monies and clean water act srfs monies. i've seen these at work, i have been the one who is on the board that not only granted the srf funds out by saw them revolve back and work for a variety of communities in our state. i just think this is a great
2:39 pm
program, it works so well in our small communities and wyoming. and the great thing is this is a program that works well in large communities, like you and senator booker have in your states as well. i'm just delighted that we're having this hearing and thank you for chairing our subcommittee, i yield back. >> thank, you senator lummis. i will now turn it over to the witnesses to present their testimony. mayor baraka, you are now recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you. chairwoman duckworth, senator lummis and members of the system committee, thank you for convening this important hearing on the implementation of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act. stakeholders needs an experiences. i would like to give a special thank you to the senate committee on an environment and public works chairman carter for their leadership on some of our nation's most important
2:40 pm
issues. on behalf of the city of newark, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today. i'm here for the 10 million american households that connect to water through lead pipes and service lines, and the children, toddlers and teenagers and 4000 schools and childcare facilities who are at risk of exposure to lead in their water. any of whom live in places similar to newark and who is cities public water pipes were installed in the mid 20th century. when an estimated lifespan of 20 5:30 years. we are rapidly arriving at those expiration days. today, we could be thankful for president biden, vice president, harris are set internationally leaders and senator duckworth who secured her entire bipartisanship waste water and drinking water infrastructure act in the bipartisan bill. this bill is essential to providing safe drinking water to everyone in america, and it's essential to addressing the financial devastation of covid-19 that laid bare the long-standing and dangerous deficiencies in our utility infrastructure.
2:41 pm
chairwoman duckworth ella quaintly stated, and i quote, every american has a right to clean water, no matter there's a code, the color of their skin or the size of their incomes. the difficulty of contaminated drinking water, like many health issues, disproportionately effects black and brown people in cities across america. but it's broadly found in suburbs and rural communities similarly. environmental justice communities, which have historically been overburdened by pollution, will only continue to face increased financial costs, and i wholeheartedly agree with the chairwoman and i am here to discuss our experience as a means to support the protection and health of our nations feature. he works service line project is unprecedented in terms of the scope and speed that has protected the health and wellness of the residents of newark, as well as portions of neighboring cities that we service. i'm happy to attest that new ex led service line replacement program, one of our cities largest infrastructure projects, has successfully replaced over
2:42 pm
23,000 lead lions in less than three years. when experts told us it would take ten years, this project help protect the health and wellness of a resident and provided 500 good paying local jobs. workers on the project work tirelessly to get this accomplished, even through the pandemic. to help safely complete the project. we identified affirmative action goals to establish fair access to employment opportunities and created a program designed to reflect the demographics of our city. in doing so, the program not only was of economic benefit to the city of newark but also to the state of new jersey. our city replaced all the lead service line that no cost in capital outlay, taxes or water hikes to our residents are customers and surrounding towns. this was critically important to ensure that everyone in our city had access to clean water. it is my hope that, through the implementation of the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure act, we can increase grants and 68 revolving fund loans for
2:43 pm
community. there are several components of a project that i would like to share today, that i hope can assist our communities. as soon as our city realize we had a problem, we acted immediately. and initiateda program to distribute over 40,000 national sanitation foundation certified water filters in over 110,000 replacement cartridges. we have communication models to reach out to residents, to ensure that those who needed it most were getting the information and had access to vital resources. our program website is a repository of information for customers to obtain information about the entire program. education materials were distributed in english, spanish and portugal needs, by city staff and local community groups. since lead service lines are the property of the homeowner, the city had to work with our state legislature who created a law that allowed us to use private public funds on private property for replacing lead service lines. this was essential to the project success. in addition, at the local level, municipal council passed an ordinance that gave the city the right of injury to private
2:44 pm
property, to replace all lead lines. this was critical, because nearly 80% of newark residents went, and tracking down property owners for access to their property would've been time consuming and costly. this lead service line project would not be possible without the incredible staff of the department of water and sewage, under the leadership of director kareem dean and our entire staff at city hall. every level of government came together, from -- , governor phil murphy, federal representatives and they were with us every step of the way. special thanks to senator booker, who immediately pushed epa to commit more federal dollars to help with our response. more importantly, the true mvps of this process where our residents, as they were our biggest cheerleader and support system through this entire project. it is my hope that communities make the residents a part of their replacement projects, as we did in newark. as it only enhances an adds value to the project, as well as a community as a whole.
2:45 pm
in closing, i hope our story is a good example for our governments that full lead line replacement does not have to be an eternal infrastructure nightmare. with federal funding and imposed deadlines and other governmental cooperation, we have the power to fix it. for the health and safety of our current and future generations. for what we do now will be our legacy. thank you again, chairwoman duckworth, ranking member lummis and members of this esteemed subcommittee, for allowing my testimony today. and then four and thank you for your leadership and -- forward ever, backwards and ever. >> thank, you mister mayor. now, mr. schimmel you are recognized for your opening statement. >> good morning, chairman duckworth, ranking member lummis and the distinguished members on the subcommittee on fisheries, water and wildlife. i appreciate the opportunity to address the committee today. my name is josh schimmel
2:46 pm
schimmel, i am the executive director of the springfield water and sewer commission in springfield, massachusetts. i also serve as a member of the executive board of the national association of clean water agencies, for whom i appear before you today. for over 50 years, nacwa has represented public wastewater and stormwater agencies nationwide. our national network of 330 public agency members serves the majority of the nations soared population, and are on the front lines of public health and environmental protection. the need for water and sanitation is as essential as it is timeless. at a recent board meeting, our utility leadership team was contemplating what projects needed to be cut in order to keep rate increases affordable. our elder statesman of the board sought the conversation and read the following excerpt. and abundant supply of goods, wholesome water is the most important requisite of municipal life. and from it flow the most marketed advantages to the community. we are in the habit of taking a
2:47 pm
lot of supply as a matter of course, and so long as we have had no experience from the failure of, it we assume that it will continue to flow on forever. he then informed us all about the quote came from the meeting minutes of our own board meeting from 1892. with this anecdote, the board of commissioners affirmed that we could not afford to delay investment any longer. they recognize the risk associated with not renewing our infrastructure, that was actually too costly compared to the actual value provided in replacing it. the historic water infrastructure in dwwia and the infrastructure law provided much-needed respite to -- trying to juggle capital funding is an ongoing funding's and maintenance while keeping customer it is manageable. -- are eager to leverage these federal investment as bill implementation gets underway. i want to flag a few areas in
2:48 pm
particular that we strongly supported in the legislation, and that we are keeping an eye on as areas of opportunity, or which may need further congressional attention in the years ahead. an important provision in bill that has gained a lot of attention is now 49% of the dollars flowing out of the traditional srf programs must be allocated by the states as additional subsidy. meaning, rather than low interest loans, they are forgivable loans or straight-up grants. federal water investment, since the 19 80s, has been overwhelmingly loans. so, this is an important pivot. any community would likely prefer a grant to alone, but this provision will be particularly important for getting federal help to highly disadvantaged communities that might not have the capacity for loan financing and to target areas facing acute needs or financial hardship. because the srfs are run to the states, each one has its own protocols for how it applies additional subsidies. epa has outlined recommendations for how states should consider targeting the
2:49 pm
subsidy to reach disadvantaged areas and communities that may not have benefited from srfs in the past. strength of this guidance, including encouraging states to look beyond singular matrix of disadvantage and to consider various metrics like unemployment, how water and sewerage compared to the lowest quinn tile income and ensuring funds reach urban areas of poverty as well as rural and small communities. while epa has laid out guidance, much will fall to the states to implement. giving the significant influx of funding, we strongly believe that states must be innovative and how they provided ishmael subsidy. not just your business as usual. we recommend that congress continue to monitor how additional subsidy is applied to remain open to potentially providing further direction to the programs, as implementation advances. dwwia set aside funding for increased technical assistance will also help ensure that these funds are applied equitably and broadly. another important provision in
2:50 pm
bill is the specific allocation of federal funds for the emerging contaminants, including pfas. clean water contaminants are concerned about the regulations they may face to manage or dispose of contaminants like pfas, which they do not profit from. the funding for utilities, specifically to help address new contaminants like pfas, is very welcome. some of the most immediate caused, clean water utilities i think to proactively understand and limit the positive system include monitoring, assessments and pre-treatment programs. working with industry to reduce concentrated p fast discharges into our systems. however, these important steps are not necessarily eligible uses of these funds, since the srf is focused on capital investments. congressional clarity may be needed in the near future to ensure these funds can be put to use effectively. lastly, as a community that is about to benefit from wifia, i
2:51 pm
want to applaud dwwia's provision of wifia and provisions to make it more accessible to applicants. this last fall, we are awarded a 250 million dollar wifia loan for our spring water and wastewater renewal program. it will cost $550 million, and wifia a finance nearly half of that figure. the remaining projects will be funded by a combination of $200 million and loans from the massachusetts srf and utility funds. the combination of wifia and srf loans will accelerate capital investment and save the springfield commission approximately $80 million in financing costs, which enables the commission to continue to support residents in need through its customer systems programs. project construction operations are expected to create more than 1700 jobs. we are extremely proud of the way those packages come together to benefit the springfield region. dwwia and bill alone will not close the infrastructure investment gap entirely, but to
2:52 pm
take a critical step in the right direction towards helping our communities have access to financial and tactical resources to provide clean, safe water. dwwia that fourth increases in clearwater program funding, which will be applied to the committee for their full appropriation moving forward. so that doesn't last minute say the new baseline for a federal partnership on water. as we knew in 1892, and remains true today, water is the backbone of healthy communities and economic opportunity. in closing, utility executives like myself face environmental, financial and technical challenges every day. implementing this historic funding will take a huge lift at all levels of government, and with this five-year funding period we have the opportunity to make sure we get it right. thank you for your time, now toward any questions. >> thank, you mr. schimmel. miss bodine, we will now turn to you for your opening statement. by the way, chairman duckworth has just gone to vote, we've
2:53 pm
been called the vote. so, she and i are going to tag team for a while. miss bodine, thank you. >> thank. you i want to thank chairman duckworth and ranking member lummis and members of the subcommittee, for the invitation to speak today. i also want to thank senator and cough for her introduction. it was an honor and privilege to serve this committee of its its chief counsel. so, i want to focus my testimony today on some of the challenges that are opportunities, obviously, and challenges presented by the drinking water and wastewater provisions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. first, let me say that i strongly support all the drinking water and wastewater provisions in that legislation. when i first electorate i was like, wow, i recognize every one of these issues. these are issues that have been around for a long time and represent enormous challenges for local communities and this really is a historic opportunity.
2:54 pm
but, given the amount of funding govern talking about here, there are going to be implementation challenges. that is particularly true because a clean water act in the safe drinking water act regulations say that states after attach the funding to a loan or, in this case, and insistence agreement within a year after receiving it. , so it's going to be very difficult to meet that deadline. it'll be difficult for states to do that. particularly getting money out to the disadvantaged communities, which of course, congress, all of you, made such a high priority in this drinking water and wastewater legislation. 49% of the funding for the biggest pots of money is set aside for disadvantaged communities. appropriations language makes the appropriations available until expended. so, the appropriation money doesn't expire, but what it means is that if a state fails to meet the other deadline of attaching the money, then epa
2:55 pm
has the ability to reallocate. and so, what i'm worried about is that the result could be that, as a result of the deadline, you might get a reallocation of funding away from states with more disadvantaged communities, because of the lack of capacity to get through the loan process. and to states that perhaps have more sophisticated communities, who know how to get funding from the srfs. so, i'm just highlighting that. i know that wasn't anybody's intent. but the consequence of the deadlines could result in that. i have to say, some of the small communities are probably going to have difficulty meeting some of the conditions that are attached to the srf loans. it's not just lack of sophistication that's going to cause some of these delays. i have to say that i was concerned when i read the march 8th implementation guidance. that's because there's a lot of
2:56 pm
language in there about what's epa expects the states to do. that includes revising the state attended use plans, it includes revising state definitions of what it's a disadvantage community. now, when congress set up the state revolve england for programs in the clean water drinking water act, they definitely made them state-run programs. and definitely made them stay priorities. it is language in the clean water act that explicitly says priorities are solely the province of the state. the save drinking water act was modeled after the clean water act. so, this language in the implementation guidance is maybe confusing to states. there should be any suggestion that the epa could condition recede to the funding, on meeting its expectations. because they're not in the law. i also just wanted to note that there is a different program and the act, the small disadvantaged communities act, which was intended to be epa
2:57 pm
run. because the pot of money was smaller. so, it was intended to hit the most needy communities and let epa find those communities and allocate that money and direct grants to those. instead, epa has implemented that through an allocation formula. so, it takes the money and spreads very thin, so doesn't actually do it it was intended to do. so, i just want to quickly summarize some areas that both epa might want to consider changing and epa might want to consider changing. , first epa should avoid any suggestion that they're going to attach strings to the money that is in part of the statute. second, epa should probably consider whether or not some technology uses are eligible. yes, it is an infrastructure. the srf and the clean water drinking water for capitalization. but the of limitation guidance as that for the lead service line funding, that monitoring
2:58 pm
as part of the lead service line project is eligible. but it doesn't clearly say that that would include monitoring beforehand. and, certainly, not compliance monitoring but specifically monitoring for some of these lead issues has been a challenge. the city of newark is a tremendous success story, but it did start with a lawsuit against the city from and our d.c. over monitoring and monitoring for lead. so, this is a big challenge for cities and there are technologies available to help with that. and it would provide protection before all of the lead service lines are going to be replaced. we've heard ten years, we've heard from senator booker, it'll take very long time. in the interim, there are things that can be done to protect public health. and then, congress, again, not to belabor it, but you may want to consider some of these deadlines. about when the money would be reallocated away. when it would go away. so, again, that's something to look at. lead service lines, it's going
2:59 pm
up, now a complication formula. congress may want to, say when the inventories are done, there should maybe be a different allocation formula. right, now it's going to everybody and it's eligible for doing the inventory. so, that's a good thing. but once the inventories are done, it's going to be clear that some states have a bigger problem than others for lead service lines. finally, if epa doesn't think that some of these monitoring issues can be addressed under the legislature, then congress might want to think about making some changes also. i know my time settled stop and take questions, thank you. >> thank you. i think you are not because your institutional memory is so valuable to this committee. thank you. it's great to have you here. and have you help us recall what some of the original intense where behind these programs from your experience. thank you. and now, i welcome mr. pepper.
3:00 pm
you are recognized for your opening statement. and then i turn the gavel back to chairman duckworth, who has returned from her first vote. >> thank you. good morning, chairman duckworth, ranking sandra long mers, and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to appear virtually. i was in d.c. most of last week with small water systems, including the town of tinslee, wyoming. we took home the silver medal of the great american what it is test. and congratulations, madam chair, the lake [inaudible] won two of illinois was crowned gold medal winner in the contest. it is an honor to testify today on behalf of small and rural communities like densely and lake [inaudible] water district. i'm mark pepper, the executive director of the wyoming association of rural water systems. in nonprofit association of 255 small water systems in the state. i am also testifying on behalf of the national rural water association, which has a
3:01 pm
membership of the overthrow 37,000 roll water systems. on behalf of the wall and rural communities we appreciate the u.s. congress with the -- investment and jobs act or the infrastructure bill. this legislation and it's approximately 50 billion dollars in what infrastructure funding will be remembered as one of the most significant public drinking water and wastewater initiatives, especially in rural america. congress included numerous known numerous beneficial improve provisions -- in the infrastructure bill. including access to new funding that will help them overcome nfl inches alike [inaudible] technical capacity, such as the expansion of technical existence, subsidized funding, or grants targeted to the communities with the greatest need, which are often rural and small. as with any large piece of legislation, it would appear there are a number of -- language provisions, along with maze and shells and the administrator issued rules and guidance that we will all need to work through as we endeavor
3:02 pm
to assist what assistance in utilizing this. funding in wyoming much of the wager and wastewater infrastructure is 40 to 60 years all the needs replacements and upgrade. this includes drinking water, and search collect the systems, what is stooges thanks, -- i did physical safeguards. additionally, our current drought is forcing many communities to find new water sources and driving up consumers water bills in. wyoming? i'd, art of movement of environmental quality images with drinking water and clean water srfs. however, the process remains cumbersome for most brawling combs monument's committee without the assistance of consulting engineers are technical assistance providers and get on the departments intended use plan. the infrastructure law will infuse three times the traditional amount of state resolving funding in fiscal year 22, in addition to the traditionally appropriated amount included in the fiscal year 22 on the most beloved appropriations act. one company breaking the
3:03 pm
massive month of new funding being pumped into the existing system over the next five years, i'm reminded of the line from the movie, jobs, we are going to need a bigger boat. we also understand the important need to eliminate [inaudible] from our utility systems and [inaudible] customer service line. this will be a daunting task, [inaudible] water systems will have the information necessary to then address potential really placement projects. to that and, our association as well as many other state and we will our water associations have partnered with 120 water. 120 water is a company that has developed predictive modeling and database search tools to help all systems combine the data needed for the additional initial inventory. the revised corporal requires this inventory be completed by october 2024. once the inventory is completed, system should have the data disassembly to apply for funding. this partnership along with the availability of the increased technical assistance resources will go a long way to achieving this goal. many rural and small community
3:04 pm
local government leaders will need to be educated on the new funding opportunity as well as the needs of their particular water infrastructure in order to crafting project and submit it for funding. a project development circuit [inaudible] could be used to go to council meeting to council meeting, and in small communities to provide technical assistance for project planning and application. in closing, madam chairwoman, small and rural communities thank you for the opportunity to appear before the cause subcommittee today, express ourselves stronger support of the infrastructure bill, and acknowledge the numerous opportunity this committee and provided moral america to testify and be included in the crafting of federal water and environmental legislation. and i look forward to questions. >> thank you, mr. pepper. and now we'll turn to questions for the witnesses. chairman corporates on his, way and when he gets here he will be recognized for his questions. but until that i will begin with my first question. mayor baraka, the city of newark, new jersey, has
3:05 pm
recently received national attention to the success of the cities lead service line replacement program. i, too, want to take the time to highlight new works incredible work. in less than three years, under your leadership, the city has replaced all 23,000 lead service lines at no charge to residents. that's truly amazing. with 15 billion dollars provided in the bipartisan infrastructure package in direct payments to the drinking water state revolving fund, the lead service line replacement, offstage will have access to funds to remove these dangerous lead pipes, but this will also require major planning for the states to implement this effort. mayor baraka, you have already gone through this process. can you elaborate on the city of newark's lead sewage line replacement program, and speak to the steps the city and mayor's office took to as the school? and if we can really talk a bit about the planning process? that would be very helpful. >> thank you. so, first. thank you. thank you, senator.
3:06 pm
first, we were dealing with three parts of implementation here. one was the use of part of those filters that were distributed to residents. the other was the replacement, replacement of conclusion control to cut pipes in the last. but most important was the replacement of lead service lines. and that was a three pronged strategy from the very beginning. even before we got national attention, that was our strategy. the problem is that that strategy would have to, kicking us ten years or more get completed. we immediately used our gis system that we had in place to identify lead service lines in the city, and they did it all the way back to 1900. we used that and compared it, also, too our [inaudible] information, homeowners information, that we put
3:07 pm
together, and we had a project management tool called evil terror that allowed us to track every lead service lines in the city, and when they replaced, and we have the to be foreign, facing so residents can see where lead service lines were actually being replaced, and they could actually typing their own address and see if their lead service line was scheduled to be replaced and when it was scheduled to be replaced, in fact. when we had issue that, we had issue with the belt, we wanted to expedite the program. got 120 million bond from the county which allowed us to expedite this money from our front. the capital outlay was probably the most important piece. and we developed a public works project, that is largest public support project in the history of the city. we involve the residents in the planning offered through meetings. you know, where they're virtual and in person. virtual, obviously, when the pandemic came. we had this in almost every language available to our residents.
3:08 pm
we also established a works project so residents can begin to get trained so they can actually change their own lead service lines and put subcontracting opportunities in the language that allow for minority vendors to be a part of the replacement of these lines as well. this went on for a considerable period of time and as covid happened, it slowed down a little bit, but the last thing i want to say, which i think is important, when we first begun this program, when it was voluntary, only 3% of our residents signed up to get their lead service lines replaced. they would've had to have paid $1,000 to assist in that. we made it mandatory and free in the past local law and legislation to allow us the more peoples alliance on peoples property. we went from replacing 10 to 15 lead service lines a day to 100 and service lines a day. so that was incredibly important for us to do. >> thank you. i'm going to suspend by
3:09 pm
questions and turn, and recognize the ap w chairman, senator copper, copper, has just joined us. senator judgment. >> [inaudible] i don't record the last segment. the chairwoman suspended the question so i could ask a question. but thank you for your kindness. welcome to all of you. some of you have been with us before and for others, is your first time [inaudible] i want to thank each of you i. also want to check out jay and our ranking member subcommittee to, senator alumnus, for holding what i believe is an important hearing, not just for those of us on this committee, but for the folks that we are privileged to represent back across the country. having a full understanding of how the bipartisan infrastructure law, which we helped write, literally in this room, is being implemented and used by communities as, i think, the critical next step in ensuring that these funds are used as we intended them to be, to be used. i have a question.
3:10 pm
i think my first question would be for each of you. some jewelers [inaudible] start with you, nice to see you again. but my first question, are the funds that are provided in the bipartisan infrastructure law sufficiently flexible to allow the backlog of infrastructure projects to be addressed in your state? particularly, in small, rural, and disadvantaged populations? and are you facing the implementation challenges? >> thank you, senator carper. and it's great to see you. so, the -- the concern i have is -- you know, we are seeing a, a historic level of funding which we have not had to manage before. we are also appropriately -- congress decided to focus and set aside 49% of the funding for the small disadvantaged communities. and those, my concern is that those goals of reaching the money where it's needed the
3:11 pm
most is going to come up and hit a wall in terms of the obligation to get the money attached to assistance agreement with any year that they receive it from epa and. i think states, particularly for the small disadvantaged communities, are going to have a really hard time doing. it is great that there's a technical assessment money in the bill to do that, but that is going to do be a tremendous challenger and it would be a tragedy if, if that, that deadline meant that the money didn't get to where you intended it to go. >> all right, thank you. joshua, great name from the bible! you pronounce your name schimmel? >> schimmel. >> good. and when you respond to the same question, please? >> sure. i would agree in the timing issue, but i would also say, from the technical assistance, i think is extremely important. and the fact that the states have the ability now to utilize
3:12 pm
design eligibility, so studies and those on potentially at the state level, would be part of the srf program. so, i think broad interpretation of how those, how entities can utilize this srf program and technical assistance to get projects off the launching pad, so to speak. so, design, studies, sampling. those are really critical, critically important to the practitioners, who oftentimes, as susan had said, like some says it's a first occasion in their ability to apply for these types of loans and programs. >> thank you, so. i understand we have a mayor here from the other not -- in delaware we have a new arc it. just to be towards. people ask [inaudible] we have a mere. there are delighted [inaudible] . i want to do, next [inaudible] i think i'd like to be mayor of new york of new arc. i'm not sure which one. please go ahead. same question. >> thank you.
3:13 pm
i think the technical assistance is critical to help people navigate how to, not just apply and use this money properly, i think that that, to have them do that upfront and doing a process is critically important. but i think the major piece of this is cooperation between state, county and local government. that's key. if we do not have the kind of cooperation, it doesn't matter the technical assistance. we have the best technical assistance in the world. if there's no cooperation, and then these things will be stalled and won't happen. the thing about newark is we were able to pull all of our partners together from a federal level all the way down to a municipal level to work, and if there is some provisions that even for people to do that, it would even be, even better, because none of this can happen without the cooperation and collaboration of all levels of government thank you, mayor. and then joining shortly, i understand, mark pepper, from wyoming association for rural water systems.
3:14 pm
we have wyoming, delaware, too. i got a quite a bit. i like to tell our colleagues from wyoming that i was just in wyoming last weekend. so. all right, mark pepper, same question. >> thank you. madam chair, chairman carver. yeah, i would reiterate the issues that we're going to probably have with timelines. i think there are some provisions in talking with guardian q, they're trying to write some emergency rules to help implement some of this. so i think in da, the technical existence providers that we've been following, along will be following again following the state meet the needs and design those rules so that the money can get out to those systems that really needed the quickest. so i'll reiterate what everyone else has said as well. >> all right, thank you so much. madam chairman, i yield my time. i'd like to ask one more
3:15 pm
question just one more question. there baraka [inaudible] ? >> please do. >> mayor barack, i'm not going to pick on you, but i would like to ask one more question. epa drinking water and wastewater programs, as you know, allow states to create their own affordability criterion to attempt to target funds to disadvantaged communities throughout the states. this critical flexibility allows states to meet the unique needs of their vulnerable populations because the works what works in delaware may not be right for [inaudible] or wyoming. my question is, please share with us how your states affordability criteria has been used to address newark's lead pipe replacement program, and are there any lessons you can share from your experience [inaudible] needs of underserved communities? i like to say found how it works, jomana. >> that >> >> thank you, i'm used to getting picked on, i'm a mayor. so, [laughs] .
3:16 pm
the great thing about our program, that it was free to all residents. it was no cost to anyone, so no one had to pay to get their lead service line replaced. not a capital cost, not in taxes, not in raising the fees. none of that took place. so, everybody equitably got their lead service lines replaced. that was made possible because we change the law on the state level that allowed us to use private dollars to replace public winds. in, because we had the upfront cash provided by the bond provided by the county government on our behalf. we also, during the pandemic, created a moratorium on folks turning folks water off in the middle of that. and we gave people what we call opportunities of different payment to pay overtime period, their water bills during this time as well. we were very flexible around that, and we continue to be as
3:17 pm
we move through this pandemic. >> all right, thank you, sir. i have a question, i will submit those for the records of it's all right with you, chairman. unless you insist i ask them now. but only if you insist. >> you are welcome to ask another now. >> are you insisting? >> i'm insisting. >> all right, because she insists. my third question. i don't mean to appear greedy asking questions. a miss bodine, susan and mr. pepper, this is regarding technical assistance funding. some of these have been mentioned by several of you already. miss bodine, mr. pepper, the epa's implementation memo to states recommends, as you know, that state revolving funds use the full technical assistance set aside allocation. these 2% carve outs from the annual srf funding provided capacity building assistance that can be used to help small
3:18 pm
rural or tribal disadvantaged communities to identify needs, develop projects and apply for funding. here's my question. would you please share with us how technical assistance has been a beneficial tool for the communities with which you have worked. and are there additional ways that we can help small, rural, tribal and disadvantaged communities gain access for epa programs? this bodine, would you like to go first? >> thank you, senator. i think that the provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill are tremendously important, and i do think and i would ask mr. pepper to get the on the gravity of this. but i do believe you provide enough flexibility and technical assistance to allow that the pots of money go to where they need to go. whether circuit riders, whether it's the states who can contract with circuit riders. and then epa providing help as well.
3:19 pm
to your question about how it helps, there are situations where people, small systems, literally don't even have operators. much less a sophistication about how to gain access to funding. and so, the circuit rider program, technical assistance on the ground has always been tremendously important to protection of public health. >> all right, thank you. before i overstay my welcome, let me ask mr. pepper to responded the same question. remotely. >> thank, you chairman carper. the technical assistance, the circuit rider program has been a cornerstone of the rural water association available for the 50 state affiliates. all of our circuit riders are versed in application process, they reversed in trump project management, project development. as senator lummis said, 90% of
3:20 pm
the systems and wyoming serve under 10,000. well, 92% of those served under 500. so, being able to have more technical assistance like that, i typically have a list of four or five additional certified operators who would like to come to work for us that could then go out and meet with those small systems and give them a helping hand in developing those projects and developing the application process. and working with their engineers. it's just a lifeline that has been a cornerstone, and i'm glad to see that it was expanded. thank you. >> thank you so much. thank you so much for holding this hearing, and to senator lummis and our witnesses for being here. mayor of newark, i extend a
3:21 pm
warm welcome to network sometime when you are south on the 95 and you're thinking where should i stop for a break. come and see your sister town. okay? >> thank you. >> great to see you guys. >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman carper. now, joining us by webex, senator whitehouse is recognized. senator kelly, you are recognized. >> thank you, madam chair. and, since this is our first subcommittee hearing since the infrastructure bill, let me quickly say thank you to senator duckworth and lummis for all of your work alongside chairman carper and cap it out
3:22 pm
to get the infrastructure bill across the finish line. thank you for that. it's really a big deal in the state of arizona. mr. schimmel, i want to start with a question for you. in your testimony, you discuss the ten billion dollars which was included in the infrastructure of law to address pfas contamination. this is a big challenge for the state of arizona, both in phoenix and tucson areas there are growing pfas plumes in our groundwater aquifers. as we face worsening drought conditions along the colorado river, groundwater will become a more important source of drinking water for many communities. yet, like you discussed in your testimony, i've heard from wastewater opportunities in arizona whether assessments of monitoring our assessment of our aquifers is an eligible expense within the clean water srf program. so, mr. schimmel, can you
3:23 pm
expand upon your testimony to explain the types of investments that utilities like yours would like to make it, to address pfas contamination? including expenses which may not be eligible for clean water srf funding in the infrastructure law. >> sure, thank you. -- [inaudible] i think that the importance of flexibility with all of this, funding whether it's technical assistance or through the design component of srfs, it's going to be critical in how communities put that structure to how they will address pfas. certainly, as the regulations or let state by state, the sampling component of that will be adopted by water and wastewater utilities. i think there is a lot of
3:24 pm
issues with pfas, not just in drinking water but on the wastewater and sludge disposal as well. so, there's a lot of opportunity for innovation in all of this. i do think that, specifically, there needs to be flexibility with the funding in terms of technical assistance and, especially, that design component for planning studies as well. that would be the concerns that i have, in terms of pfas and how it can be addressed as it continues to storm across the u.s.. and is of great concern. >> can you give some examples of those opportunities and innovation? >> sure. i think there's treatment innovations on the drinking water side. large-scale treatment is, we really haven't seen it up in the northeast for surface water, we have more surface water. i think there's going to have to be development of the ability for pfas treatment on a larger scale than we've seen for large municipalities.
3:25 pm
on the wastewater side, and sludge disposal, incineration, gas-ification, those issues, there is a lot of room for innovation on how we treat pfas or remove pfas from the water stream where the air stream. but those are going to be extremely expensive, and i would urge that is much focus we have as pfas, and it's certainly very important prominent, we also can't forget our meat and potatoes infrastructure as well. and there needs to be a balance amongst what we're looking at. so, again, i think there is a great deal of opportunity, regulations have to allow us to seek out that opportunity and innovate on how we treat pfas and how we remove it. and that is the answer. >> well, on the pfas side, what do you think we can do here in congress? or what do you need from the epa to make the most of the funding that we have appropriated? and i mean, like, is there
3:26 pm
additional legislation that you could think might be helpful? >> you know, i think to some degree addressing pfas as water and waste water providers we don't receive, it it's not pfas. to the extent that we can remove pfas from the train that we receive, it will be more helpful. it's much more practical to remove the source of the pfas then gather it at a water system and try to remove it at that level. that is a very expensive proposition. >> thank you, and thank you, madam chairwoman. >> thank you. now, the webex, senator whitehouse. >> thanks very much. nice to see you chairing the hearing, senator. mayor baraka, have a pronounced your name correctly? >> yes, thank you, senator. yes. >> thank you.
3:27 pm
fighting lead contamination takes me back a long way, to when i was attorney general in the first lawsuit against the lead paint industry, for the public nuisance of what they were doing and rhode island and the harms to children. so, i am really interested in how you made this work. it sounds like you replace over 23,000 law lead in less than three years. what did the structure of that look like? how did you make that happen? did you have a special entity for that setup for, it had to do finance? it added you measure, it lower the metrics? >> so, thank you for that, senator. we had, again, aj assistance that allowed us to access records as old as 1902 i was to begin identifying lead service
3:28 pm
lines in the city. we compared that with our sea dm smith, our consultant which also identified community organizations to identify where the lead service lines are. we were able to get a bond, user bond from the government of 100 $20 million added to the money we were getting from state and federal sources. which created about 170 million dollar project in the city. oh i we then had to change the laws, state law, to allow us to spend that money on public sources, and we did that law on private property. and then, locally, we changed a lot to allow us to go on people's property without the permission of the homeowner as a public health issue -- >> was that through your water department? was that through a new entity? how did you manage it?
3:29 pm
>> we managed it through our water department. and a project management system that we have called e-builder, that helped us track the progress of every lead service line and when it was replaced. you could actually tape or address into that and it would tell you when we are coming to replace your lip service line. >> well, i think that's really impressive. has it been -- has your success been studied or written up anywhere? in any kind of journal or academic paper? >> the there are countless articles of newspapers now, i know that cd adam smith, the consultant, wrote something. but there is nothing, at this point, in a national journal or academic journal. no. >> well, thank you for what you've done. you've expanded a window of possibility, i think, by getting 23,000 lead lions done
3:30 pm
in three years. we will do our best to be as successful in rhode island. thanks very much, thank you, chairman. >> thank, you senator whitehouse. i'm going to resume my questions. one of the biggest motivators for me to draft dwwia was to increase access to funding for communities that need it the most but often cannot access it. this has led to systematic inequity. my state of illinois, the community of cahokia heights has been experiencing horrifying sewer overflow issues for years, and is an urgent need of repairs. including replacing sewer pipes, pumps and lift stations and drainage systems. but communities like this likely will never qualify for traditional loans or be able to provide a large cost share, and there are almost no other options for them. how are struggling communities ever expected to prosper economically if they do not have functioning drinking water
3:31 pm
and wastewater infrastructure? you can't build a tax base of people don't want to move into your committee. dwwia attempts to address these issues by setting aside in the water program, and increase the percent of both clean water and drinking water srfs that must go to disadvantaged communities. for grants, no interest loans and debt forgiveness. we discuss some of them today already. not to, mention over 40% of bills funding can be allocated to disadvantage royal in tribal communities. mr. schimmel, you have experience and working with all types of water providers and community projects and communities in your role as executive director of the springfield water commissions and the board of aqua. can you explain what would you say are the biggest impediments to disadvantaged water systems getting funding? and are there any changes in dwwia that you think would help with some of these issues? >> sure, thank you, senator. i mean, i think one of the
3:32 pm
largest challenges is the overall lack of experience of small and disadvantaged communities of having utility providers that have utilized these programs, and i think that is a barrier. and i think the second largest challenges really creating a rate structure that's affordable to those communities that supports the capital investment. and you know, we're looking at 50 years of plus or minus of under investment in all of our water and wastewater systems. and so, a challenge, that's a really big challenge, because we do need to raise rates in order to do the work. we need to raise the money. so i think that three things that are really going to help buy the grants program. that's going to give access to communities that can't raise the money on their own, or when they are not willing to raise rates. so, i think that's extremely important. the technical assistance, again, that's going to help inexperienced borrowers get through the process, identify projects, and then utilize that
3:33 pm
help to put applications in to utilize the funding. and then the design eligibility, i think a lot of projects stop because there's no funding for design. so you can pick your project, you can build your project, but you can't get it off the launchpad if you can't design it. so, that eligibility for design and studies as partners of the srf programs at the state level, i think is critically important. so these those three things. the grandson, the technical assistance, and the design eligibility and the srf programs will really help lower the bar in terms of making it more accessible to those communities. >> thank you. mayor baraka, i understand that almost 80% of newark's residents are renters. you mentioned it in your opening statement. and it can often be very difficult to reach landlords and all property owners in order to access the prophecy to -- non removal. in additionally that can sometimes be legal roadblocks when attempting to use public funds on private property.
3:34 pm
as i mentioned, numerous states, including my state of illinois, will have this issue, especially in urban areas and low income communities. can you explain integrated to dale you -- touched on this a couple of times about passing legislation, making it free -- if you could expand on it a little bit more on how the city of newark was able to overcome these problems? i think it would be very helpful. thank you. >> thank you, senator. as i spoke earlier about the need for cooperation between all entities of government we had to communicate with with our state legislatures to get them to understand the severity of the issue and the urgency of the problem. they helped us change the law that would allow us to use public money on private property. it changed the law in the middle of it, which gave us the permission when we got the bond to use that want to infect change peoples let service lines. that's number one. number two, as you stated, many of our landlords are not local
3:35 pm
and when, we were first in doing it before we got the bond less than 3% of folks signed up. so we had to go door, door to door, and get people's permission to come and change their lead service line. even with the help of multiple community honored organizations, we were getting traction, but not enough. it would've taken us a longer, longer time to be able to get that done. so we passed a local ordinance using a public health emergency suggesting that we should be able to come on your property and change your lip service line without the permission of the homeowner. and that expedited this tremendously. we went from changing ten and service lines to a day, to 100 that service lines a day. so those two laws were very critical in helping us get this done. thank you >> -- thank you. i would now would like to turn over both the gavel, when i go and vote on the second vote,
3:36 pm
and also recognize the ranking member for her questions. >> thank you, madam chairman. my first question is for miss bodine and mr. pepper. what is the brooks act? and how could it impact small or disadvantaged communities from using these federal funds? >> thank you, senator, for that question. so, the books act is federal legislation that says a federal dollars are being used for a project, then for the design elements, it has to be a separate, a separately competed project in that at the community has to pick from the top three most expert companies. so, it's a, you know, you could say it's well intentioned so you don't go with a low-cost bitters on design. you could say if you wanted to
3:37 pm
criticize, it you could say it's an example of a and association, essentially getting into federal law to give them a competitive advantage for federal dollars. but whatever your view is, the reality on the ground is that it does create a tremendous barrier for small communities, because you don't have, you know, these small project, you don't even have the big national architecture, you know, engineering design firms, even bidding on them. i mean, it just, it doesn't make sense for small projects. i used to get lobbied on this when i worked in the house. and we always, you know, we always raised the small community concern. it did, it did get into the clean water act in 2014 in that warner bill, and in my recommendations, i do recommend that congress amend that at a cost threshold. you know, okay. these big engineering firms, they don't even want, they're not going to build on these small projects. it's not even in issue. but nonetheless, the legislation applies to them. >> mr. pepper, do you have
3:38 pm
anything to add to that? >> yes, i am and thank you, senator. yeah, you know, in wyoming, the small communities typically have a consulting engineering firm that they've contracted with that acts in de facto as their engineering department. the engineers then work with public works, put a project together, and then it goes out to bid to the contractors who have been problem will be performing the actual work. and i think that that, this particular provision has created an under utilization of the srf in wyoming for that reason. usda and, of course, stick, monies slib and so forth don't have that provision. and it eludes the communities to utilize that consulting engineer that date they've had on staff, relatively, for a number of years, and
3:39 pm
understands their systems. so, i see it as a potential impediment. >> well, thank you. interestingly, in wyoming, there are only 12 tones whose population exceeds their elevation. so think about that one. cue on that for a minute. ms. bodine, what are some of the examples of creeping conditions in the march 8th guidance that cause concerns, that jumped out at you? >> >> certainly, thank you for that question. it is true that when these srf podiums where regionally set up, it was a shift from grant programs to state run programs and it was initially very much stay run. and only the initial federal capitalization grants were considered federal dollars. now, overtime, congress, and this is, you know, congress has
3:40 pm
changed the law to apply things like davis bacon and american iron and steel. the infrastructure bill also adds the buy america build america bill, which we don't have guidance on yet, so it's unclear and how that will apply. troublingly, epa's guidance adds to that. it's one thing that congress puts it in, but when epa is saying things like states should tell their communities that they should enter into project labor agreements, for example. there's nothing in the statute about project labor agreements, at all. yes, davis bacon applies, but not to project labor agreements. and you have right to work states. so, it's not epa's authority of rule to do that. they also, we've heard testimony on both sides on the disadvantaged community definitions and the intended use plans but, again, it's a state decision. i was really happy to hear
3:41 pm
senator carper say, yes, it's very different in delaware and wyoming, about what's the disadvantaged community. these really truly have to be state decisions. my biggest concern was the epa didn't say shall, didn't say must but that they expected and should do it. and i'm just worried that states will do that as a mandate. >> yeah, well, if it's on a checklist and there is a blank on the checklist, that may trigger epa too denies some sort of funding. so, yeah, big concern, thank you. this is for all panelists. what should congress be doing, going forward, to make sure these federal dollars make the most impact in the communities that you work or represent? mayor, would you care to take a stab at that one? >> sure. i think that -- thank you, senator. i think that some of the things
3:42 pm
that are happening are exactly what needs to happen. infrastructure bill is important, to put resources in the hands of as many people as possible. if they can get directly to the cities, i would advocate that that money come directly to the cities. i think cities and mayors can use it. very quickly, we can expedite it. and you could see the impact that we have immediately. if that in fact takes place. to make sure that some of this money is actually flexible, that folks can use it in a way that they think is necessary as it relates to the infrastructure in their community. particularly around lead the service line. gives us the opportunity to use local law and state laws as, well to do this as quickly as we possibly can. >> mr. schimmel, any comments on this? >> i thank you senator, i agree with the mayor. continued funding is the single most important issue for all of us.
3:43 pm
i would also add that making sure that there is eligibility for independent utilities, such as ours that are regional, versus municipal. at, points we have not been eligible for certain funding that has come out because we are a regional entity and don't have a municipal governance. and then, continuing to incentivize the state srf programs to innovate, in order to gain new membership into the folks who are utilizing the srf programs. not enough folks utilize it and, if there's any way that they can incentivize to lower the bar or make it easier for communities to get their hands on the funding, i think that would be exceptionally important. >> thank you. miss bodine? >> yes, thank you. so, this is a historic influx of funding. yes, it's mostly channel to the state revolving loan funds, which are set up for capital
3:44 pm
investment. we've heard some of that people today talk about ability for planning. yes, it could be used for light service line inventory, but i guess one suggestion i would make is that you may want to expand the eligibility to include some innovative monitoring, to identify problems. whether it's the pfas, whether it's the lead. so that you are providing public health protection right now. because, as senator booker said when he spoke, it's going to take ten years or more, for example, to get rid of all the lead service lines. and you have people who are exposed in the interim. or, we don't know if they're exposed or not. taking some small amount of that money, obviously these are hugely expensive programs, you need the capital investment. but taking somebody for some interim health, public health protection, might be a good idea. >> okay, thank you. and mr. pepper?
3:45 pm
>> think, you senator. continued funding, maximum flexibility with the end result in mind i. getting from point a to point b, which is upgrading our infrastructure, getting rid of lead lines, addressing pfas. but allowing maximum flexibility on how we get from point a to point b, i think, is probably the determinant that we're going to have to have going forward. >> thank you. i have the luxury of the fact that the chairman wants to come back from her vote, and so i get to extend the time a little bit. and we'll take advantage of it. so, this is for all the panelists. in the march 8th guidance, justice 40 is referenced multiple times throughout the document. but the epa does not define
3:46 pm
explicitly to stay srf programs exactly what it is. justice40 is the presidents plan to have 40% of the benefits from federal investments and climate go to disadvantaged communities. we've heard concerns that justice 40 it's going to lead to a standard, one sized fits all definition of disadvantaged communities. so, to all the panelists, is a disadvantage community and one state necessarily the same in another? mayor, would you like to take that one on? >> sure, absolutely. first, i think that it is the right thing to do to identify a disadvantaged communities who have not had the ability to respond to environmental issues and other issues that are no fault of their own. except that it's their zip code. so, generally, there are things
3:47 pm
that are similar throughout the country, no matter where you live. you know, people are discriminated against for very specific reasons. and are victims of environmental disasters for very specific reasons, because they don't have enough money. disproportionately, black and brown, they may be immigrants and they move into these communities and these things exist there, their legacy environmental issues that exist in these committees and should be addressed in those communities. because they've been there forever. whether the next to the water in the port or the airport. all of those things, because they're in big cities, and rural areas, all those things need to be addressed. and there are some specific things that maybe particular to other peoples communities. but a different in other states and cities. there's some disadvantages that people have, particularly based on the region that they live in. so, while those things should be considered it's equally important to understand that
3:48 pm
there is a general sense of what's being disadvantaged is. and we cannot have one or the other, we should be dealing with and. >> thank, you thank you. mr. schimmel, any thoughts to add on that one? >> one size does not fit all. absolutely, we have urban areas, springfield in particular, disadvantaged community. but i would also look to some of the rural areas in western massachusetts, where it is a two person shop and they do everything and they don't have the time to fill out the loan paperwork and have never done anything even close to that. and so, as long as there's not a one size fits all, there's a lot of different types of disadvantage. i think that the funding needs to be able to reach into those corners, where it's obvious but also there is areas where it's not so obvious. where there's other types of disadvantage. so, i think it's important at this flexibility in all of this
3:49 pm
and it's not scripted as a one size fits all. >> thank you. miss bodine, your state and mine have indian reservations. which would particularly come to the for when you are thinking about disadvantage, in some cases. certainly that's true and wyoming, on the wind river indian reservation. but would you respond to this question? >> yes, the tribal areas present their own, very unique challenges, with respect to waste water and drinking water. i speak that as a former head of epa enforcement. like, oh no. but a specific question, yes, there was an executive order with a goal of 40% of the funding going to disadvantaged communities. congress, though, you have said already 49%, not 40%, is to go to disadvantaged communities from these various pots of money. so, the issue is addressed, it's taken care of. there's nothing further, i
3:50 pm
don't believe, for epa to do. my concern is there would be an attempt to overlay a federal definition of a disadvantage community on top of what's is in the statutes. because the definition, both in the infrastructure bill and in the underlying clean water act and in the safe drinking water act, is about eligibility for what's called additional subsidize asian. so, it's from what are the communities that need this money. they need the extra subsidy, they aren't eligible, they're not eligible for the loans because they never be able to pay them back and therefore the srfs won't give it to them. so, it's those definitions about where does the money go where it's needed, where are the needs the most. which is specific. whereas the broader definition of the disadvantaged community, it could be much broader but it may not bring into account some of that financial affordability issues. so, again, you took care of it in the infrastructure bill with
3:51 pm
the 49% set aside. the underlying statute took care of it by setting up the definitions and the responsibilities for states to set their disadvantage committee cry syria. so, i don't think there's anything further to be done >> here. to me. thank and we will be met. you. and mr. paper? >> agreed. thank you, senator. reservations do pose a great opportunity. in wyoming, as you know, when river has two tribes. we work very closely with what drives. in fact, the president of our association is the utility manager for the eastern shoshone utility. yeah, i think it should be left to the states for the definition. i guess taking wording from a prior career mind, you say
3:52 pm
potato i say po-tah-to i think the direction should be left to the state. >> thank you very much. i will return the gavel to our committee chair chairwoman, senator duckworth. >> thank you, senator llamas. i just have one final question. it goes back to mere baraka. i'm a big proponent of promoting local hiring initiatives when awarding contracts, and i think it should be a priority for all states including my own state of illinois. although there have been challenges. your city of newark was able to turn this program into a local hiring initiative, getting somewhere around 600 jobs, where at least 250 were local hires, and 85% were previously unemployed residents, which is quite remarkable. this is admirable and it is such an important part of executing these programs. it allows this water infrastructure initiative to not only help herself and hefty health and safety of the committee but also use this
3:53 pm
opportunity to benefit local workforce and the economy. mayor, was this local waterworks hiring new workforce tiring unintentional part of new york's lead program, and did you see this inclusion for local hires have a positive effect on your city? >> it was deliberate, and very intentional. not only did we write it in the actual contracts, we set up training programs for residents [inaudible] you'd be prepared to receive these jobs. so we write in the contract they had to hire local residents, and the number of percentage of local residents they had to try to hire, and they did that. we also put in the contract, some of the subcontractors had to be local. and we created a small kind of low interest loan, you know, a forgivable loan, to small businesses so they can be able to pay money upfront, to be able to get the resources that they needed to actually compete for these jobs, for these
3:54 pm
contracts. and they did that. and as a result of that, many newark residents were fired, as well as newark businesses began to subcontract on these projects. and are now primaries on other projects that are happening across the state in replacing lead service lines. >> that's a wonderful [inaudible] , thank you. before we close the hearing, i'd like to recognize senator llamas for any final questions or comments. >> well, thank you, madam chairman. and i'm going to borrow from our committee chair. he has this wonderful tradition of wrapping up hearings by asking our fine witnesses, what questions do you wish you would have been asked that you haven't been asked? so if anyone cares to put in a closing word, now would be the time.
3:55 pm
>> [inaudible] >> good! you know, this is such a significant program. i'm so impressed with the way it operates and how flexible and responsive it has been. i hope we can continue to be that way, because our communities are so different. and these funds just seem to get to the right places and solve real problems, and so, i really want to thank you, madam chairman, for having this hearing and thank you, witnesses, very, very much for providing your expertise and good advice to this committee. madam chairman, i yield back. >> thank you. i think mr. pepper had a -- >> oh, good -- >> from webex. >> yes, thank you, senator. i've always been shy. [laughter] i guess i'd just
3:56 pm
like to respond to a question on pfas and he bridging contaminants that senator kelly brought up. we have the source water protection planning program within our associations. we deal with watershed planning protection plans as well. and i think there is funding that flows through the usda fsa for salt water protection. there's also the nrcs has funding and a requirement for sauce source water protection. and i think as it relates to groundwater sources, was in wyoming and in arizona, and senator kelly, i'm and nau graduate up the road in flagstaff, we are ready and have been doing some of that all along, and as it relates to the emerging contaminate, that's a portion of the source water protection program is, is
3:57 pm
looking at potential contaminants and mitigation efforts regarding that. so i think the funding that's available within the infrastructure bill for emerging contaminants can probably be expanded and combined, hopefully, with some of the fsa and nrcs money that, the nrcs, and can help to address the pfas issues quicker and with more breadth. thank you. >> thank you. miss bodine? >> yes, may i just follow up on what mr. perry just said? so when can senator kelly was talking about emerging contaminants and pfas i went to the quotation guide to see the eligibility's to refresh my memory. the money is going to nrcs. so it is srfs so it is capital for new technology, new treatment facilities, identified sources,
3:58 pm
consolidating, it does include planning and design. but to the point i made with respect to the lead, it doesn't include identifying the problem. so it's capital investment after you've already identified the problem. but it doesn't include the, you know, finding, you know, doing, maybe, the more sophisticated, innovative technology to find the problems. so that's just a consideration. clearly, the big real cost, at the big cost, is on the infrastructure investment. and that's what the money is dedicated to. because that's how the srfs, that's what they're intended for. but again we're dealing with some of these newer issues, like the emerging contaminants, or, frankly, the old issues, where we've got people being exposed to that and drinking water for years and years and years and years. we may want to consider some expanded eligibility. again, not for the bulk of it, but just for some of it. >> thank you. and now [inaudible] would you say, any alibis?
3:59 pm
okay. as there are no more questions, we will -- did you want to [inaudible] ? all right, as there are no more questions, we will bring this hearing to an end. but before we adjourn, some housekeeping. i don't know if we received any submissions while i was gone, but i would like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record of variety of materials that relate to this year. right, without objecting. senators will be allowed to submit questions for the record for the through the close of business tuesday april 19th. we will come by this question, send them to our witnesses, and ask our witnesses to reply by tuesday, may the 3rd. and i want to thank the witnesses and senators for participating in this important hearing. and with that, the hearing is adjourned. al captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy visit]
4:00 pm
4:01 pm
4:02 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on