Senate Spending Bill Tackles Water Contamination

Senate Spending Bill Tackles Water Contamination

An amendment added to a two-bill spending package on the Senate floor last month would provide $45 million in funding to reimburse local water authorities or states for expenditures to treat drinking water contaminated with PFOS or PFOA due to activities at a neighboring Air Force or Air National Guard base. The provision is intended to cover treatment costs that occurred after Jan. 1, 2016, and requires water authorities to waive all claims for prior treatment expenses. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) offered the amendment to benefit communities such as Newburgh, N.Y., which faces contamination due to activities at Stewart Air National Guard Base.

The language would require water authorities to request payment within four months after the legislation is signed into law. Before that takes place, the House and Senate will need to negotiate a compromise version of the fiscal 2019 spending package approved by the Senate Aug. 23, which includes the defense and labor-HHS-education spending titles. On Tuesday, the House approved a motion to go to conference with the Senate on the $857 billion minibus, with the goal of striking a compromise before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) also signed onto the amendment as it would benefit utilities near Colorado Springs forced to address water contamination stemming from firefighting activities at Peterson AFB. The provision would allow water authorities in Security, Widefield and Fountain to be reimbursed for $9 million spent addressing elevated levels of PFAS in drinking water supplies, reported the Gazette.

“Tonight’s win in the Senate is the result of years of bipartisan work with the southwestern Colorado communities, but it is only a small part of the broader work needed to ensure Colorado residents have access to clean drinking water,” Bennet said in a written statement after the Senate approved the amendment last month.

Photo courtesy of Security Water and Sanitation District

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