Lawmakers introduce new bill to combat water infrastructure cost

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

Lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would allow flexibility for local communities planning improvements to wastewater and storm water investments.

U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, among others, introduced the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, which could combat some of the expenses of water infrastructure upgrades. Municipalities spend between 6 to 7 cents of every tax dollar on water and sewer systems, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

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“Wastewater infrastructure improvements support local jobs and keep our water clean and safe to drink. It’s critical we support Ohio communities as they work to update these systems and give them the flexibility to get projects done based on unique community needs,” Brown said in a statement.

Click here to read the text of the bill

The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act would:

• Establish an Office of Municipal Ombudman at the EPA to assist cities as they work to comply with federal environmental laws.

• Provide flexibility to communities as they prioritize investments in wastewater and storm water projects.

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• Require the Environmental Protection Agency to update its guidance and expand the criteria for determining affordability and revise its guidance for affordability measures.

“Local communities are working to upgrade our aging water infrastructure systems, but too often struggle with the costs of inflexible government mandates, and families are forced to pay higher utility bills as a result,” Portman said in a statement. “Our legislation would give local communities more flexibility in complying with these mandates and encourage the EPA to work with them in developing innovative and cost-effective ways to upgrade our water infrastructure so it’s healthy and safe for all Ohioans.”


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