President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget, released Tuesday, includes a proposal to cut more than a third of a billion dollars from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) state water funding program, just weeks after the president declared a state of emergency over Flint, Michigan’s water crisis.
The budget proposes slashing $370 million, or 11 percent, from the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CW SRF)—which support water quality improvement projects like treatment plants—and reallocating the money to the Drinking Water (DW) SRF, which supports clean water systems and infrastructure.
Despite claims that the change would “boost water sustainability and reduce the price and energy costs of new water supply technology,” watchdog groups warn that it does nothing to remedy the urgent water crises facing chronically underfunded communities like Flint.
But as Mae Wu, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), wrote in a blog post on Tuesday, that method is akin to “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“Cutting funds that help keep pollution out of our water (CW SRF) and moving the money to remove pollution once it’s already in our drinking water (DW SRF) is no solution at all,” Wu wrote, noting that there is no guarantee the funds will ever even reach Flint.
“At best it is a short-term band-aid approach to addressing the chronic levels of underinvestment in our water infrastructure by local, state, and federal government,” Wu said. “Both of the SRFs need more funding.”
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