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Fraser testifies on critical clean water provisions.

NLC President, Mayor Don Fraser told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (Max Baucus, D-Mont., chrmn.) last week that NLC's "bottom line on stormwater is 'no end of pipe requirements.'

"The provision m your bill, S. 1114, that imposes a ten year moratorium on numerical effluent limits and water quality standards [for stormwater run-off] provides municipalities with that absolutely essential relief." And, he added, this provision "is not negotiable."

EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Martha Prothro, concurred with Fraser, saying that EPA too believed it was too soon to talk about compliance with water quality standards for stormwater.

"No one," Fraser told the committee, "not EPA, not the Congress, not the environmental community--has ever made a credible case to municipal officials that urban stormwater run-off is a priority problem deserving the investment of millions--if not billions--of scarce local dollars. We have not been convinced that pollution from urban run-off is an issue that can be addressed effectively, regardless of the resources invested. Nor do we believe municipal stormwater is the major contributor... to ongoing pollution in our rivers and streams," Fraser continued.

Commending Senators Baucus and John Chafee (R-R.I.) for proposing legislation that represents a "vast improvement over where we are now," the Minneapolis Mayor nevertheless warned the committee that "the new proposal is not without significant cost" to the estimated 1,500 cities and towns that will have to implement a stormwater program over the next ten years.

Mayor Fraser also proposed the committee revise the proposed stormwater provisions by providing federal resources "to finding the techniques that will accomplish the objectives of a stormwater management program." "We do not have the resources at the local level to invest in demonstrations that may or may not work," he told the committee, "nor can we justify such expenditures to our local citizenry.

"Right now," he continued, "we have no information on whether numerical effluent limits are achievable, or what, if anything, will get us to water quality standards."

He also suggested the committee allow municipalities to cover their municipal 'industrial' facilities (e.g., airports, sewage treatment plants, municipal garages) under the citywide permit rather than requiring the expense of separate permits for each such facility.

Fraser also praised the committee for proposing to continue a federal financial commitment of $2.5 billion a year through the end of the century to meeting Clean Water Act needs.

While expressing NLC's disappointment that no federal funds would be available for grants to municipalities to meet Clean Water Act needs, the mayor nevertheless commended the committee for allowing state matching funds to be used for grants to "disadvantaged" communities (defined as those whose residential water and sewer bills are 1.5 percent or more of the median household income).

"We are pleased to see your recognition that for some municipalities--those whose citizens are facing unrealistic cost increases in water and sewer bills--compliance with federal Clean Water Act requirements will be possible only if non-repayable sources of revenue are available," he said. Fraser also expressed NLC's strong support for "the committee's ratification of EPA's proposed CSO (combined sewer overflow) guidance and [the] provision of authority to issue fifteen year permits." In opening remarks, Senator Baucus outlined the five principles he believed should guide the committee in re-enacting a Clean Water bill: (1) restoring a full partnership with state and local governments and recognizing the federal government's ob- ligation to help; (2) spending dollars more efficiently; (3) supporting innovative pollution control methods; (4) acknowledging that effective control takes time; and (5) re-examining the problems of small communities and providing them with assistance.

Senate hearings are scheduled to continue weekly until the August recess. No similar legislation has yet been proposed in the House.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities president Donald M. Fraser
Author:Kocheisen, Carol
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 28, 1993
Previous Article:Squeaker in the Senate: on 50-49 vote, budget passes, conference battle looms.
Next Article:Haynes Johnson scheduled for leadership summit, August 11-14.

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