03/29/2013

Water Infrastructure Legislation

The Water Infrastructure Finance Commission was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2009 to analyze our water infrastructure needs and develop recommendations for financing these needs going forward.  I served as Chair of the Commission, which published its final report in February 2012.  The Commission found that the Commonwealth faces a $10.2 billion gap in resources for drinking water and an $11.2 billion gap in resources for clean water (wastewater) projects over the next 20 years.  This session, I filed the following bills which build on the recommendations of the Commission to ensure that we have the resources necessary to rehabilitate our aging infrastructure and continue to prove safe, clean drinking water across the Commonwealth.

An Act relative to best management practices in water (S.358/H.688)

Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Carolyn Dykema

Summary: This bill would encourage the adoption of best management practices for both the clean water state revolving fund (SRF) and the drinking water state revolving fund.  It would direct the Department of Environmental Protection, with input from the Division of Local Services, to establish guidelines for best management practices in water management, including full cost pricing, financial management, and use of a stormwater enterprise fund.

An Act to mitigate water resource impacts (S.945/H.805)

Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Frank Smizik

The bill authorizes adoption of an opt-in “water-banking” fund by communities, public water suppliers and DPWs allowing them to charge a reasonable fee for new or increased water withdrawals and sewer use, or when new or redevelopment projects are unable to comply with federal, state or local stormwater rules.  Funds would be used by communities to invest in greener water infrastructure, increase the capacity of wastewater systems and protect drinking water supplies.  Measures could include local recharge of storm/wastewater, water reuse, retrofitting properties with water-saving devices, fixing leaky pipes and land acquisition for wellhead protection.

An Act Relative to Municipal Assistance for Clean Water and Economic Development Infrastructure (H.690)

Lead Sponsor: Representative Dykema, Co-sponsored by Sen. Eldridge

This bill would authorize the creation of a 10-year Water Infrastructure Bond to fund local drinking water, wastewater and storm water improvements.  The bond would provide $200m in annual funding that would be directed as follows:

  • 20% of the funds would be sent annually to every municipality, similar to Ch. 90 transportation funding. New funding would be restricted to water infrastructure.
  • 40% to supplement the existing State Revolving Fund low-interest loan program administered by the Water Pollution Abatement Trust.
  • 40% for grants to fund municipal water projects. This new grant program would be administered by the Water Pollution Abatement Trust. Grants would be allocated subject to the following:
    • Qualifying municipalities must institute best management practices including adoption of a long-term asset management plan and full-cost pricing.
    • Affordability factors, including existing local water rates, are considered when allocating funding.
    • Up to 10% of the funds are set aside for projects using innovative or green technology.

An Act relative to interest rates for the state revolving loan fund for water and sewer projects (S.350)

Lead Sponsor: Senator Creem, Co-sponsored by Senator Eldridge

The bill would replace the language in the General Laws setting the interest rate at 2% with language that would allow the rate to be set at 0% for the state revolving fund for water and sewer projects, allowing cities and towns to continue borrowing affordable funds to make needed repairs to our water supply systems.

An Act to Promote Innovative Water Management in the Commonwealth (H.2931)

Lead Sponsor: Representative Dykema, Co-sponsored by Sen. Eldridge

This bill would require the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to develop a program for pilot testing innovative water technologies. There is a growing cluster of water innovation companies in Massachusetts developing new water technologies that can be marketed globally. This economic opportunity was highlighted during the recent state Water Innovation Mission to Israel. The proposed pilot initiative would support help bring new technologies to market and expand economic growth potential in this promising sector. The bill also requires DEP to create incentives through the Administrative Consent Order process for the use of innovative technologies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *