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tv   Hearing Focuses on Water Systems Improvements  CSPAN  May 22, 2017 11:44am-1:29pm EDT

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mccabe. >> what would you say the greatest challenges are with policing this new landscape? >> so one of the challenges is always going to be keeping up with the new ways in which technology is being used to -- you could say surveil, or monitor, or gather very intimate information about people. as our connections become more intimate, as they are in our bedroom and on our body and in our children's bedrooms, then giving precise geo location out about us, it becomes more important to protect the consent to people are aware of what's happening to their information? >> watch the communique or thes tonight on 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. now, a hearing on clean drinking water and water infrastructure projects. officials are water authorities
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in illinoisillinois illinois ca tennessee recently testified. >> i'd like to hall kacall the to order and thank our witnesses for joining today. i know it's early. the one thing that's certain about us in washington d.c. is that there's uncertainty around us, so because of other meetings scheduled and planned, we ask for you to come early. and i personally appreciate it. it shows you the interest of our colleagues that they're here this early. so that's great. no matter how many miles
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you've -- first of all, we have folks as far away as alaska and as close as pennsylvania. no matter how many miles you've traveled to be with us, we're grateful for the time and financial sacrifice to share your expertise with us today. even though they did not have -- send someone to present oral the testimony, i appreciate the environmental protection agency providing us with written statement to include in our hearing record. i ask that unanimous consent without objection. so ordered. i'm also pleased to announce the agency agreed to take written questions from members for our hearing record. this is highly unusual. we obviously consider the agency an important player whose technical experience and input is critical to the quality of our work. i now recognize myself five minutes for giving an opening statement. our panel looks at the broadly water drinking water and
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infrastructure as to questions as to what is necessary for the federal government to do in terms of support of these systems to meet future needs. the discussion draft which is subject of the hearing is meant to build on the testimony from our last hearing to help our sub committee think for precisely about what items should be prioritized for legislation and how they should be addressed in the legislation. importantly, the discussion draft is not a finite universe of the issues the committee is open to considering. it is a true baseline for conversation and invitation for feedback or refinements or suggested alternative approaches and and opportunity to make the case for including additional issues. some of us are curious why one provision or another is not added. i hope we can talk about those things today. i suspect we might be able to find agreement in some of the issues after we've had some time to find out objectives and reflect on the best ways to balance the ways of water,
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consumers. let me take a minute to explain items in the discussion draft. why they are there. based on oral testimony and written responses for the record, the water utility groups that testified at the hearing last hearing talked about the importance of partnerships for addressing growth and compliance issues. the discussion draft proposes language to allow contract arrangements for management of engineering services that will get a water system into compliance. under questioning many of the witnesses mentioned the important role that asset management can play in addressing short and long-term water system needs. but that mandating this requirement would be challenge. the discussion draft has states consider how to encourage best practices and asset management and has epa update technical and other training materials. we received testimony on the need to further aid disadvantaged communities. the discussion draft increases the amount a state can dedicate to disadvantaged communities to 35% of their annual
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capitalization grant. we received testimony on the need to increase funding for the drinking water state revolving loan fund. and the public water systems supervision grant. but not specific recommendations about what a real estatic number is or whether budgetary cuts will offset the increases. the discussion. it leaves in blank to law a more specific conversation to occur. this will not be easy. some of the conversations will be difficult. we will have to have them in an open and honest manner, but that is not new. anyone who has been around our sub committee for a while knows we have a reputation for tackling challenging issues. we are at the beginning of this journey with the discussion draft as a baseline, and we're not close to the finish line. with that i yield back my remaining time and yield to my friend from new york, the
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ranking member. >> thank you. thank you to our witnesses for being here on what is apparently a busy morning in the house. we can all agree that aging drinking water drinking water systems can hold back economic growth and threaten public health. these problems will only get worse if we continue the decades long trend of neglect. i know we have limited time, so i will not restate all the details of our growing national need to invest in drinking water systems and update the safe drinking water act. suffice it to say, the need is immensely great. the subcommittee has been building a tremendous record that more than justifies the need for action. mr. chair, appreciate you holding this hearing, and offering the discussion draft to bring attention to our hidden infrastructure, which has been out of sight and regrettably, out of mind for far too long. this draft responds to many of the issues that have been identified in previous hearings, the need to reauthorize the drinking water srf and the
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public drinking water supervision program as well as asset management plans, greater water-source protection and support for disadvantaged communities. with that said, i truly believe we can improve upon the draft before us today, which will ensure strong, bp bipartisan support moving forward. there are a number of democratic bills that have already been introduced that can help inform these efforts. the aqua act includes provisions on how to further assist disadvantaged communities. and better incentivize asset management plans. it would also helpful fill a stated goal of this administration, mandating buy american requirements. promulgate much needed national standards. the bill also looks to reduce lead in schools, as well as other important sidwa updates. mr. peters has a bill to provide grants to assist systems with resiliency, source-water
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protection and security in the face of changing hydraulic conditions. such as droughts, sea level rise and other emerging pressures on systems. we do know the national need is growing. $384 billion over the next two decades to maintain current levels of services. we need to have the vision to acknowledge that this does not account for stresses, environmental and financial that will continue to get worse if we is simply do nothing. finally, the drinking water srf has been a tremendous success. i'm grateful that share shimkus, but as we will hear today, the draft includes unspecified funding levels. as a candidate, president trump called for tripling funding for both srf programs, the aqua act poe poses levels that are in line with that, with what states handled following the recovery
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act. i think these are good targets to start negotiations. we must recognize that local governments are struggling. significant amounts of projects go unfunded each year and the status quo of federal support will simply not reduce the massive and growing levels of need. excuse me. it is time for the federal government to step up and contribute its fair share. mr. chair, i would end by asking for a commitment to sit down with our side, learn more about some of our proposals and work together to make this a truly bipartisan effort that moves us forward. we had close cooperation on the brownfield's reauthorization draft. i think we can get to a similar place on drinking water. with that i yield back. >> the chair recognizes mr. walden for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in january we began a review. we spoke about all things that could affect water
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affordability, reliability, and safety. today we take the next steps in our deliberative process by reviewing a discussion draft and related ideas from stakeholders to formulate policy on drinking water, state-revolving loan funding and supervision grants. we'll also examine efforts to improve asset management by utilities and other ways to lift paperwork burdens and improve systems delivery of safe drinking water. both sides of the aisle support making newer and larger investments in our nation's infrastructure. and i agree we need to help ensure these assets support the great quality of life americans enjoy. however, in doing so, we must be careful to select wise investments and create diversified options that make sense for water systems for states and for consumers. it's important for us to tackle this job seriously for a couple of reasons. as we learned at the last hearing, the country's drinking water delivery systems are facing the challenges of older age. we learned from the water utilities and other stakeholders
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the importance of partnerships for addressing growth and compliance issues. the discussion draft proposes language to allow contractual arrangements for management and engineering services and get our water system in compliance. we welcome feedback on that approach. we also received testimony on the need to increase funding for the drinking water state revolving loan fund and water supervision grants, but not specific recommendations about what a realistic number is, or whether budgetary cuts will offset these increases. the last couple of years the appropriated levels have been consistent. the appropriations for the drinking water revolving loan fund were last authorized in 2003. that's long enough. it's time to reassert this committee's proper role in authorizing our statutes and realign the focus of the epa and other agencies back to their core missions. in this case, ensuring the provision of safe drinking water for our nation's consumers. we look forward to continuing the dialogue on this as our
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committee process continues. i want to welcome all of you here today, our witnesses who took time and traveled from far and wide to be with us to comment on this discussion draft, and that's what it is. your input is important and we would appreciate as specific recommendations as you're able to give on these important issues. again, thank you all for being here. we all care deeply about drinking water, safe drinking water, and helping our communities achieve that for all of our citizens in the country, and with that, mr. chair, i yield back the balance of my time. >> chair now recognizes the ranking member of the full committee, mr. pallone. for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you. the safety of our drinking water is an incredibly important topic which deserves more time than we have at today's hearing. at our last drinking water hearing we heard broad agreement that we need to recognize the revolving fund and increase the funding. my democratic colleagues have been saying this for years, so i'm encouraged that republicans on this subcommittee now seem to agree.
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unfortunately, this rushed hearing is not sufficient to address this issue. we have great ideas, but they're not reflected in the bare-bones discussion draft. we need a bipartisan effort to modernize the safe drinking water act, but in preparing this discussion draft, your staff didn't consult with us. we were eager to work with you, but we were told without explanation that such discussions could only happen after this hearing. so before us today is a discussion draft that in my opinion fails to measure up to the severity of the problem. it simply does not meet the needs of public water systems and the communities they serve. the draft contains nothing to address the growing problem of lead in drinking water in homes and in schools. it does nothing to improve the regulatory process and better protect public health from new and emerging pollutant classes and it does nothing to improve transparency and restore consumer confidence in the safety of our tap water, and there is no commitment to increase funding. so i am disappointed in the funding draft.
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and i urge my colleagues to look at the solutions in hr-1071, the aqua act of 2017, and hr-1068, the safe drinking water amendments of 2017. i want to thank our witnesses for coming and apologize that we don't have more time available but i also want to express my frustration at the lack of a witness from the epa. this subcommittee cannot produce meaningful legislation to reauthorize the state revolving fund and strengthen the safe water act without their input. so it's clear we need to have another hearing. safe drinking water is simply too important, and i hope we can start to work together on a bipartisan bill to tackle these serious problems. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> gentleman yields back his time. all members having concluded their opening statements, the chair would like to remind members that pursuant to committee rules, all members' opening statements will be made part of the record. i want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today
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and taking the time to testify before the subcommittee. today's witnesses will have the opportunity to give opening statements, followed by a round of questions from members. our witness panels for today's hearing are in front of us. what i'll do is recognize you individually for five minutes. your full statements submitted for the record, and as you can see, there's a lot of interest on our side. so if you get too far over the five minutes, i might start tapping the gavel to get you to wind up. and before i take more time, let me just start by recognizing mr. morton, president and ceo of the california water services group. on behalf of the national association of water companies you testified here before. we're glad to have you back. you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning. i'm marty kropelniki. president and ceo of cal water. we provide water and waste water services to approximately 2 million people in the great state of california, hawaii, new mexico, and washington, state of washington. i'm the president of the
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national association of water companies, which i'm here representing today. our members have provided water services for more than 200 years and today serve approximately 25% of the u.s. population. nawc applauds you. mr. chairman and this subcommittee for highlighting america's drinking water infrastructure needs and putting forward a discussion draft amendment to the safe drinking water act to review. we are all working together towards the same outcome, safe, reliable, sustainable, high-quality drinking water which is critical to every person, every community and every business in this country. suffice to say, that substantial portions of the utility sector face significant challenges. the nation's drinking water infrastructure recently received a "d" by the american society of civil engineers. the american waterworks association projects that $1 trillion will be needed to invest in infrastructure throughout 2035 to keep up with
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aging infrastructure and population growth. more honestly, recent reports by the national resources events council shows that one fourth of people get water from untested and contaminated systems. with great challenges come great opportunities, and that's what we're here to talk about today. there's a discussion draft put forward by the subcommittee is a good first step to addressing the crisis. legislation along these lines will do much to build upon and advance the good work of many already suppliers that have already undertake. for example, nawc estimates our six largest members, of which cal water is one, will invest nearly $2.7 billion this year alone in their water systems to ensure they remain safe, reliable, and are sustainable for decades to come. federal funds alone will not fix this problem. especially given that many of the problems are the results of poor decision making year after year after year and not necessarily the absence of funding. let me highlight for you several recommendations for congress to consider. first, we must ensure that any federal funds are used
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efficiently and effectively. nawc and its members support the epa's ten attributes which include things such as financial viability and infrastructure stability. applicants for dollars of public funds should demonstrate that they are managing their assets adequate repair and replacement are fully implemented, including water rates that reflect the true and full cost of service. second, billing systems that are in seriously noncompliant situations with water quality standards must be held accountable. if a system is plagued with a history of serious non-compliance, it should be given an option to a partnership or compelled to consolidate with an able owner or operator. finally, as congress considers future funding for drinking water programs, nawc recommends that the private water sector not only have equal access to federal funding, but also that steps be taken to enable and
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incentivize private water's challenges, apart for the more obvious tax-based measures, these should include a safe harbor or a shield that would allow companies like cal water to partner with undercompliant systems and give them time to ramp up and come into compliance. quite simply, they have the financial balance sheets, managerial and technical expertise to ensure all americans have safe, reliable, and sustainable high-quality drinking water. i sincerely appreciate the invitation to come back here to testify, along with my colleagues at nawc, we continue to look forward to our work with you and this committee as we work on the nation's infrastructure challenges. thank you and i'll be happy to respond to any questions mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes mr. scott potter of the nashville metro water services, nashville, tennessee. on behalf of the association for metropolitan water agencies. you're recognized for five minutes, sir, thank you. >> good morning, sir.
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ranking member, members of the subcommittee. the association of metropolitan water agencies appreciates the opportunity to offer our thoughts today on the drinking water system improvement act of 2017. i'm scott potter. director of metro water services in nashville, tennessee. we provide drinking water services to 190,000 households and 200,000 sewer accounts in nashville and davidson county. in tennessee. i also serve as president of amwa's board of directors, representing the largest companies that serve collectively over 130 million americans with quality drinking water. our members support reauthorization of the drinking water srf and we appreciate the legislation before the subcommittee today would do so for the first time in the program's history. my written testimony for the record includes more detailed feedback on the various sections of the legislation, so i'll use my time today to speak more generally about the bill and amwa's priorities of the
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reauthorization. simply put, we believe it's a valuable program that should remain a cornerstone to promote cost effective water infrastructure financing to help communities protect public health and meet the regulatory requirements of the safe drinking water act. we are pleased that the drinking water improvement act preserves the existing framework while making several targeted modernization provisions to the program on the safe drinking water act as a whole. as an example. it will leverage, to help identify water quality violations and carry out necessary management and administrative functions. the bill also recognizes the importance of asset management by recognizing steps they will take to promote the adoption of practices and how they will assist local utilities in training their staff to implement asset management plans. we support these measures, those amwa also believes utilities
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that have completed qualifying plans should be rewarded with a degree of additional preference when asking for assistance. the idea is not to make the plans mandatory or to exclude systems without asset plans but uninstead to incentivize to think wholistically about the whole life cycle costs of their infrastructure. as this legislation continues to develop, amwa would like to recommend several points. to reauthorize at a level that recognizes the immense nationwide water infrastructure need and does not inadvertently constrain congress's ability at a amount that appropriately responds to these needs. for example, initial versions would have provided more than $1 billion for the drinking water srf.
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given the nation's infrastructure needs and the apparent willingness of appropriators to provide this level of investment in the program, this legislation should authorize a funding level comfortably in excess of this figure. earlier this year, amwa and other stakeholders endorsed a call to double srf funding to roughly $1.8 billion, so i figure in this vicinity would serve as a reasonable starting point for the new authorization level. amwa also supports expanding the safe drinking water act's definition of a disadvantaged community eligible for additional assistance to include a portion of the utility service area. the statute currently requires all of the criteria to be met. but this is difficult for those that typically serve diverse populations that both have areas of affluence and also areas with concentrations of people in need. by allowing defined portions of a large utility service area to be classified and disadvantaged, more individual in-need
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neighborhoods served by america's largest water providers would become eligible for the same type of benefits that are already available to many small cities and towns throughout the country. finally, we support codifying the ability of recipients to use drinking water srf funds for project that is improve the security of a public water system. in 2014 congress explicitly allowed the funds for publicly-owned treatment works, so we believe it is appropriate to formally extend the same ability to public water systems. in closing, amwa believes this legislation is a good starting point for efforts to reauthorize the drinking water srf. we look forward to continuing to work with members of the subcommittee on this legislation, and i'll be happy to answer any questions the committee may have. thank you, sir. >> yields back his time, chair thanks him. now i'd like to recognize steve fletcher, nashville, illinois in the great state of illinois and in the great district of the 15th congressional district of illinois.
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on behalf of the -- who represents that? i don't know. the national association of water, national rural water association. you guys got me off my game. you're recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, chairman shimkus, ranking member tomko, and members of the subcommittee. i'm steve fletcher from rural illinois in washington county. rural illinois, new york and the rest of america thank you for this opportunity to testify about drinking water infrastructure. thank you congressman shimkus and tomko to your visits to your local small communities in your district to help with water issues. this is very much appreciated. i also need to thank congressman harper and the subcommittee for passing the grassroots rural and small community technical assistance act into law in the last congress. i am representing all small rural water -- i'm sorry, small
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and rural community water supplies today through my association with the illinois and national rural water associations. our member communities have a responsibility of supplying the public with safe drinking water and sanitation every second of every day. most all water supplies in the u.s. are small. 92% of the country's 50,366 drinking water suppliers serve communities with fewer than 10,000 persons. illinois has 1,749 community water systems and 1,434 serve less than 10,000 people. new york has 2,343 and 2,195 of those serve communities with less than 10,000 people. my water system is a not-for-profit water system started by a group of farmers in the late 1980s who organized and built the water system using funding from the federal government that allowed these mainly farm families to receive safe, piped drinking water for the first time.
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without the financial help from the federal government we could never have afforded to have safe public water or even a public water utility. before the development of the rural water systems, rural households, including mine, relied on private wells that were contaminated with nitrates, so we couldn't drink the water. we are pleased to endorse the subcommittee's legislation, the drinking water system improvement act of 2017. small and rural communities support the use of these existing federal infrastructure initiatives like the srfs as a primary delivery mechanism for any new federal drinking water initiative. these initiatives all have specific provisions targeting federal water subsidies to community water projects based on environmental and economic need. if some type of needs-based targeting is not specifically included in any new water infrastructure legislation, the funding will bypass rural america and be absorbed by large metropolitan water projects.
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this bill accomplishes this objective. we support the bill's extended maximum loan duration and increase in the amount of additional subsization to disadvantaged communities. commonly low-income communities do not have the ability to pay back a loan, even with very low interest rates and require some portion of grant funding to make a project affordable to the rate payers. i would like to make two more related policy points with my remaining time. first, there's a misconception among stakeholders that srfs are for small and rural communities. the srfs have no limitation on size or scope of a water project. according to epa, most srf funding is allocated to rural communities. 62% is ordered to large communities, including numerous srf projects that cost over 50 million or $100 million. the srfs work for all-sized
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water systems, and we're grateful for your support of the programs. my final point is regarding local governmental choice and decisions of consolidation and privatization. the decision for any local government to privatize or consolidate should be determined at the discretion of local citizens. there's nothing inherently more efficient or more economical in the operation of our private water utility versus a public governmental utility. regarding consolidation, rural water associations and systems like mine have assisted in more communities consolidating their water supplies than any program or organization. again, when communities believe consolidation will benefit them, they eagerly agree with these partnerships. i have numerous examples from my own community which partners with six neighboring water utilities in various forms. we do not think any new federal regulatory policy would be for privatization or consolidation would be
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beneficial to local communities or their citizens. thanks, mr. shimkus, for being such a good friend and support of rural america and to give us this opportunity today. i'm happy to answer any questions. >> gentleman yields back his time. chair thanks him. and now i'd like to turn to ms. lisa daniels. director of the bureau of safe drinking water at the department of environmental protection in pennsylvania. on behalf of the association of state drinking water administrators. you're recognized for five minutes. >> good morning chairman shimkus, ranking member tomko, and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the status of our nation's state drinking water programs. i'm also president-elect for aswa. so i'm very glad to be here to represent the organization. our members are on the front lines every day ensuring safe water and protecting public health. vibrant and sustainable communities, their citizens and businesses all depend on a safe and adequate supply of drinking water.
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states oversee more than 152,000 public water systems and interact with them through a broad range of activities that are funded through two federal sources. of course, there's the drinking water state revolving loan fund, but there's also the public water systems supervision program. the vast majority of community water systems are in compliance with health-based standards. that's the good news. but what about those systems that struggle? the drinking water srf can provide solutions for struggling systems. at only 20 years old, it really is a remarkable success story. it has allowed states to fund projects to upgrade treatment plants, rehabilitate distribution systems, address our aging infrastructure, and it's been quite successful. in fact, states have been able to leverage federal funding to fund more than 13,000 projects through the srf. a major component of the '96 amendments was new statutory language that allowed states to
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undertake what we call proactive measures. funded through the set asides, proactive measures such as operator training, technical assistance and source-water protection offer support for water systems as they strive to enhance their performance. water systems are encouraged to consider a range of options, including partnerships which could be as simple as sharing a back hoe or as complex as merging with a neighboring system, and the set aside funds are available to support many of these activities. i would like to share an example from my home state. the stockton system was a 43 home community that was operating as an untreated, unfiltered, and unpermitted water infrastructure system. we discovered this because of customer complaints. the water was found to contain e. coli and salmonella.
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they really needed a different kind of assistance. we employed several capability enhancement programs in stockton, including capability enhancement program, which provided the initial assessment and also provided on-site technical assistance to really help folks understand the challenges with this community. we also employed the professional engineering services program, which was able to conduct feasibility studies and design work to find the best solutions. these initiatives came together with our srf funding agency to identify a willing partner, and we found that in the nearby hazelton city authority system. they agreed to work with stockton, make the drinking water srf application, extend water service, replace stockton's existing distribution system while keeping water rates at an affordable $35 per month. the total project cost was
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$2.2 million, which was underwritten been penn-vest. and today stockton has a safe and reliable source of drinking water. solutions such as this would absolutely not be possible without the drinking water srf and the set asides. drinking water systems and the communities they serve are the direct beneficiaries of the work accomplished through these programs. state drinking water programs have often been expected to do more with less, and we've always responded with commitment and integrity, but we are currently stretched to the breaking point. insufficient federal funds increase the likelihood of contamination incidents, and we do not want to see another charleston, west virginia, toledo, ohio, or flint, mishz. to sustain public protection, we need congressional support. the program has flat funded and the drinking water srf funding has decreased. these essential programs come with well-documented needs, and they must be fully supported. aswa recommends the program be
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funded at $200 million and we also recommend the drinking water srf be funded at $1.2 billion to allow us to continue to do this great work. in summary, the '96 amendments offered the community a promise of enhanced public health protection through a framework of both traditional and proactive collaboration between state drinking water programs and the water systems that they oversee. maintaining the funding for the drinking water srf, the set asides, and the pwsf program is critical. state drinking water programs are committed to fulfilling the promise of the '96 amendments. thank you. >> i thank the lady. the chair now recognizes mr. curt voss, the longest-traveling award for getting here. special projects director at anchorage water and waste water utility on behalf of the american water works association. you're recognized for five minutes, welcome. >> good morning. my name is curt voss. i am the special projects
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director for the anchorage water and waste water utility from anchorage, alaska. i also serve as the chair for the water utility council and active chair for the american water works association. we deeply appreciate this opportunity to offer the viewpoints and experiences of drinking water providers to the important deliberations and decisions of this committee. the discussion draft of drinking water legislation the subcommittee is considering is a good step towards addressing the nation's needs to water infrastructure and other needs, as well. i would like to briefly address three topics. first, providing safe drinking water to communities requires a complex mix of engineering, capital investment, management, science, community engagement and regulatory resources. this complexity makes it
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particularly difficult for many small systems to remain in compliance and regulation and maintain their infrastructure. options to help address these challenges include partnerships or regionalization to share resources among these systems, many who serve small systems and communities. regionalization or partnerships encompass anything from physical connections to shared management, engineering, operations and purchasing resources. when a compliant utility absorbs or merges a noncompliant utility, that newly formed utility faces a regulatory compliance challenge. the sdwa ought to provide a few finite grace period for newly merged system to come into compliance with regulation. whether a utility has explored consolidation should be one of the factors weighted in ranking srf loans or when evaluating
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compliance options. second, all utilities manager assets, but the practice for what we now formally call asset management is more scientific and focused. the goal of infrastructure asset management is to meet a required level of service in the most cost-effective manner at an acceptable level of risk through the management of assets for present and future customers. we do not believe a specific level of asset management practice should be mandated because that would put congress or a regulatory agency in the business of defining asset management objectives. utilities vary too greatly in strategic objective, climate source-waters, type of treatment and distribution for a federal definition to be practical. professional organizations such as awwa are making education and asset management practice an ongoing part of our educational efforts for members.
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for example, awwa's upcoming annual conference our asset management committee has developed a track of sessions on asset management with five individual sessions containing 27 separate presentations. we also believe there's a role the states can play in similar efforts through the maintenance of the pwss supervision grants. we urge congress to maintain pwss funding for fiscal year 2018 at no less the current authorization levels. third, as we have said before to congress, local rates and charges have been and will likely always be the backbone of local water system finance. however, when major infrastructure projects are required, either to comply with regulations or replace aging infrastructure, there's a need for a quicker, larger infusion of cash than those rates and charges typically provide.
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this is where the toolbox of utility finance comes into play. this spring, awwa cosigned a two-page summary of how the federal government can assist water utilities in financing these challenges. the highlights of that were, number one, preserve the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. two, provide fully-authorized funding for the water infrastructure finance and innovation act. known as wifia. that's $45 million for fiscal year 2018. three, double appropriations for the drinking water and wastewater srf program. and four, remove the annuas. and four, remove the annual volume caps on private activity bonds, the water infrastructure projects. we realize appropriations come from the appropriations committees, but we seek your support and funding with these panels. this concludes my remarks to the subcommittee. we also look forward to continuing dialog with this
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panel even after this hearing. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. the chair now recognizes lynn thorpe. national campaigns director at clean water action. recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. good morning. my name is lynn thorp. i'm national campaigns director at clean water action, a national organization with 1 million members working in 15 states on health and environmental projects with an emphasis on drinking water issues. thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the drinking water system improvement act. recent high-profile events have highlighted the importance of infrastructure investment, effective system operation, and source water protection. from the drinking water crisis in flint, michigan, to the leaking chemical storage tank that contaminated the elk river in west virginia, we've seen how taking drinking water for
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granted can lead to public health risks and economic disruption of entire communities. our approach to 21st century drinking water challenges need to be a wholistic one. it should also have resources for effective oversight of safe drinking water compliance with federal and state partners, more funding for research and innovation, more attention to keeping drinking water sources clean, and a vision for how we want our drinking water systems to look in the second half of the 21st century. you can see some ideas about that in the testimony from the witnesses we've heard from already this morning and in the 2016 u.s. environmental protection agency drinking water action plan. we do hope the subcommittee will consider provisions in the safe drinking water act amendments of 2017, hr-1068, introduced by representatives tomko and pallone earlier this year. transparency, how we determine
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which contaminates to regulate, climate resiliency and drought, threats to drinking water from oil and gas and other activities, water efficiency, and technology innovation are all important if we are to maintain a high quality of drinking water and healthy water systems. we support drinking water state revolving fund authorizations commensurate with those proposed in the aqua act mentioned earlier today, which would authorize over $3 billion in fiscal year 2018 and increase thereafter reaching $5.5 billion on fiscal year 2022. awwa, the american association of civil engineers and epa have repeatedly found investment needs greater than those i've mentioned. it signals a commitment to clean drinking water and are a reasonable contribution to the mix of funding sources available to drinking water systems. we also support increased authorizations for public water
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system supervision grants, the association of state drinking water administrators has estimated the gap in needs between current funding and comprehensive state programs to be $300 million or more annually. as noted earlier, bridging this gap will increase public health protection and support sustainable drinking water systems. drinking water state revolving fund dollars can be spent on numerous activities that support those goals. pipe replacement, treatment upgrades, source water protection, improvements for storage, and system restructuring and consolidation. we want to highlight just two of those here as examples. pipe repair and replacement and source-water protection. as you know, epa estimates we may have between some 6.5 million or 10 million lead service lines or partial lead service lines in the united states. that is a highly poisonous metal
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and children under 6 are most at risk. increased investment can help more communities to move sooner to full lead service line replacements. american society of civil engineers also estimates there are over 240,000 water main breaks each year due to deteriorating and poorly-maintained pipes. as you probably know just this week, a pipe from 1860, a water main broke right in northwest d.c. we lose water through leaks in mains and service lines as well and these disruptions threaten public health, allowing pathogens to get into the pipes and, of course, lead to loss of treated water. some estimates say up to 18% of treated water, which is a valuable commodity, if you will. so shoring up our underground drinking water infrastructure not only protects public health, reduces lost revenue for drinking water systems, but it also leads to less disruption
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like we saw in parts of d.c. just this week. we can also use drinking water state revolving funds for source water protection and many communities are using innovative strategies in this area. the return on investment there is clear in terms of public health protection, and epa estimates that every dollar spent on protecting a drinking water source saves $27 in drinking water treatment. i just want to close by noting that epa programs are fundamental to the success of state programs and water systems, so increased state revolving fund investment won't be as effective if at the same time epa lacks staffing and funding for oversight, enforcement, research, development of con tam gnat standards, support for small systems, and other critical activities. we urge subcommittee members to oppose cuts in the epa funding as well as roll backs in health and environmental protections that would put our nation's drinking water sources at risk of contamination. thank you for the opportunity to
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provide these comments. >> thank you. chair now recognizes mr. james proctor, senior vice general counsel at mcwayne incorporated. recognized for five minutes. >> chairman shimkus, ranking member tomko, chairman pallone, members of the subcommittee. good morning. i'm jim proctor from mcwayne in birmingham, alabama, and i greatly appreciate the opportunity to be here this morning to testify about an issue that's so vital to our nation's health, economy, and security. finish for almost 200 years, mcwane has proudly provided the infrastructure, providing the pipe, valve, fittings, and related products to transport clean water to homes and communities across the country. we employ more than 6,000 team members who work in 14 states and nine other countries. most are represented by the united steelworkers who we consider as partners in our efforts to improve our economy and our community. i'm pleased that the committee is considering efforts to
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modernize the drinking water state revolving fund. the drinking water srf has played a key role in delivering to communities throughout the nation. however, the committee recognized it needs reform to make it more responsive to the scale of america's water infrastructure needs. a vital component is the consistent annual authorization level to spur increased capital investment. this investment will create and preserve the high-wage jobs and make producers make american products more competitive. these impacts have a multiplier effect as they ripple through supply chains. we also need to invest those dollars wisely. safe materials available. smart technology offers many innovative solutions that can
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improve system management. increased funding and better management do american workers and industry little good if their tax dollars are spent on unfairly traded foreign imports. like many other american manufacturers we have made investments to modernize our operations to exceed the most rigorous environmental safety and regulatory standards. we must compete every day against state owned foundries that do not operate by any comparable regulatory standards and have little regard for workplace safety or the environment. this creates significant competitive disadvantages that have led to lost sales, closed plants, and lost jobs. and as the factories that once built our nation's infrastructure disappear, communities lose the vital tax revenues and rate payers needed to operate and maintain their water systems. put simply, we can't continue to divorce federal regulatory policies from procurement
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policies. the same federal government that regulates our operations and taxes our workers should use their tax dollars to purchase domestic products for the nation's infrastructure, particularly when foreign alternatives are produced in conditions that would make the members of this esteemed body cringe. fortunately, this problem has been mitigated recently by the application of the american iron and steel by american preference to the srs and wifia programs. buy america has created incentives to preserve increased production capacities in the united states and to maintain workforces critical to sustaining the communities around them. i can say with pride and relief that this buy american preference has saved at least one of our plants and preserved hundreds of jobs in the economically depressed area. by 2008 our water works fittings plant in alabama was the last survivor of domestic products. at one time there were as many as a dozen plants in the u.s.
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but all fell victim to the unfair competition i described previously. even that loan survivor was at risk of closure, operating around 30% of its production capacity, but because of buy american, that plant has increased its capacity utilization to almost 70%, added product offerings and more than doubled the number of jobs. our other plants have seen similar benefits, but the impacts aren't limited to our operations. because of buy america, the primary importer of water works fittings that has brought its production back to the united states recently purchasing a domestic production facility in restoring hundreds of american jobs while increasing competition in the marketplace. in 2014, congress codified the buy american preference for the clean water srf and wifia. over that same time it's been applied to the drinking water srf through the annual appropriations process. congress should align the drinking water srf with the clean water srf, wifia, and
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other federal infrastructure programs like transportation by making the provision permanent. this will not only preserve jobs, but a consistent standard will increase administrative efficiency and reduce costs, since many water projects tap into multiple federal funding sources. the reformation and reauthorization of the safe drinking water act programs with the buy america preference are crucial. we at mcwayne are honored to have the opportunity to contribute to that process. thank you very much. >> i thank you all for your testimony. we'll now move into the question and answer portion of the hearing. i'll then begin the questioning and recognize myself for five minutes, and, of course, i'll go to mr. fletcher first. is it challenging for small communities who go through application processes for government assistance? >> very much so, congressman. >> what would you recommend a process of streamlining or the challenges, what could we do to make it easier?
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>> i believe that if we have assistance, circuit rider program or something similar for each state, the circuit riders have the knowledge to go through these small systems and help them through the process. >> your testimony calls for streamlining the srf application process. what does that include for you? and hit your microphone button there. >> mr. chair, we do support efforts to reduce the burden on regulation and the application process itself. we think that the epa can do amongst its regions the developing best practices that can be applied to all of the regions there to streamline the application processes themselves. we believe, secondarily, that the ability to do the
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applications themselves rely on certain forms and certain procedures that the agency should streamline. those procedures themselves go to the issue of the buy america provisions. they go to the issues of tracking minority and women-owned businesses, related to srf projects. so those are two areas where we'd like to see if there's streamlining done. thank you. >> anyone else on the panel like to comment on the possibility of streamlining application process for srf? if you have -- oh, ms. daniels? >> yes, hi. so if i could just add, we've heard from applicants that they much prefer the rus program, because it's much more streamlined, and it seems that it can give the applicant up-front information sooner
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about what they might be eligible for, rights they might be looking at and helps them to move forward from there and design the project that fits sort of their understanding of funding. so if our program could figure out a way to do maybe a letter of intent where you get the financial information up front, because that's generally what you use to determine rates and monies available, that would give folks up-front information then to move forward and finish the complete application. >> yeah, i know -- what is the burden? you mentioned burden. >> so the burden for completing the application? >> right. >> well, i mean, it's substantial for small systems. in some cases they're just not capable of completing it. so one of the assistance programs that i mentioned before, professional engineering services program, we do provide assistance. so if a community really needs help completing the application, we will work with them to do
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that. >> and i agree, being from rural america, our u.s. ability for rural water co-ops and stuff has been very, very helpful. i haven't heard the same concerns that i have with the srf. going back to you, ms. daniels, are there other reasonable steps that can be taken to simplify the srf application process or paperwork? anything else you can think of? >> i think really if we can come up with an up front screening process, so an up-front letter of intent. i think that gives folks a better sense. so in pennsylvania before they can come in for an application, they already have to have the project designed, they have to have all of the permits in place. there's a lot of expense that goes into getting to that point and we don't know yet then what they might qualify for or what rates they might be looking at. >> so let me finish up with you. we've heard a fair amount of testimony on disadvantaged communities. are you comfortable with the
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flexibility the safe drinking water act regarding how much you can spend and how much debt you can forgive? >> we really are. keeping the language of "up till" gives the states flexibility. in a given year if we have a lot of projects we can fund those. in other years where we don't, it means we don't necessarily have to set that funding aside, we can use that for other worthwhile projects. >> thank you very much. i yield back my time and recognize mr. tomko for five minutes. >> thank you. many of the organizations represented today testified earlier and everyone agreed that more funding is necessary for the drinking water srf. the srf was initially authorizized $1 billion in 1996, and, frankly, i don't think that level of 20 years ago would meet our nation's needs, especially since we've seen the need grow significantly during this time period. so, my question to everyone on the panel is, do you support sustained increased funding for
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the srf relative to the historic value levels? >> yes. we do. >> mr. potter? >> sir, i'd like to address the fact that the drinking water industry is a jobs program waiting to happen. we can put a lot of people to work in a hurry. the level of funding congress would appropriate really can't be enough. we can put people to work, we can renew infrastructure, we can keep the dollars in the united states. we have used mcwane pipe, good pipe. everything about the whole program is good for us. fund us, we'll put people to work. >> thank you. can we continue, mr. fletcher, across the board? >> any increased funding for small communities would be greatly appreciated. >> thank you. ms. daniels? >> support funding of $1 billion that is not the same as the double or triple numbers you are hearing from other folks. one of the reasons is we have to
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understand that state staffing levels are what they are right now based on sort of the historical funding. states would have a difficult time quickly staffing up to be able to move a two or three times the amount of funding. i think what states may need is more moderate increases over a longer period of time and maybe some predictability that those funding levels will continue. that's what the states need to be sort of confident that they can increase staffing levels to be able to move those monies. >> right, and i believe acwa reflects that in its language. >> as we indicated in our testimony, the doubling of srf and we believe a sustained effort is necessary both for the srfs and wifia program. we do recognize that states do have a match to the srf. so along with the increased funding at the federal level is a requirement that the states have to match, as well.
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>> thank you. ms. thorpe, please? >> yes, thank you, congressman. as i mention we support significant increases in the state revolving funds, as well as in the supervision grants. recognize that there are complications and it's not the only solution to our nation's drinking water challenges, but it's certainly a much needed piece to the puzzle. >> thank you. >> absolutely. as has been noted previously there's an estimated trillion dollars needed to fix our nation's infrastructure. but highways, airports and things like that get more attention but the need is just as critical for water. if there is a pothole on the highway i'm sure y'all get a phone call from a constituent, but with water, even though 20% of our water is leaking into the ground today, which is a waste of a precious resource, it's out of sight, out of mind. but we can live without roads. we can't live without water. >> thank you.
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there are disadvantaged systems that need extra assistance and this discussion draft has some good ideas, but i believe there are additional things we can do to support them. mr. potter, can you expand why it's important to expand the definition of disadvantaged community? >> yes, sir, fundamentally, we're a large system. so we have 190,000 water accounts. we have areas that metro water services that are relatively affluent. we have areas that are economically disadvantaged. if we do not expand the definition, we wouldn't have the additional subsidization available through the drinking water srf. it provides us another tool to fund a project specifically in a disadvantaged area that we would not have if the definition was not expanded, so we would request it be done so. >> thank you. and on asset management, the benefits of that management, of asset management, being more widely accepted, and i do understand the concerns about
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being overly prescriptive, but also believe that more could be done to encourage utilities to implement plans. mr. voss and mr. potter, do you see a benefit to having systems finance projects that focus on the long-term sustainability of their systems? start with you, mr. voss. >> mr. tomko, yes, and we do believe in the encourage of every utility doing a project of that nature to consider the life cycle costs associated with that and to factor that into the decision making on what is the right solution for the particular project issue at hand. >> and mr. potter? >> yes, sir. asset management is a good thing. recognizing that some utilities will have staffing that's more, i guess, available than a small system, but a good example is just a pump. if you take a brand new pump out of the box and you install it and you do vibration analysis and lubricational analysis over the life cycle of the pump, it's
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going to last longer. that's a better use of funding. if you don't do that, you don't have a program, it's going to cost more. and if it costs more, those dollars will not be available for capital investment. overall, it's a good idea. we recognize that some utilities will have higher capabilities than other, but overall, asset management works. >> thank you, and i yield back. >> time's expired. chair now recognizes the chair of the full committee, mr. walden for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. voss, one of the proposed srf enhancements you discussed in your testimony was added flexibility in repayment terms for the srf loans. why is added flexibility for repayment terms needed, and do you support the provision in the discussion draft that extends loan reparyment schedules for disadvantaged communities from 30 years to 40 years? >> mr. walden, we do support the issue of extending the terms to disadvantaged communities, and essentially it's an issue of this, when you think about when
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you take out a loan for a home, for other things, those are long-lived assets, and to be able to extend the terms out to not exceed the useful lives of the assets that are being funded through the srf and so forth, that is an appropriate way to help communities who need to extend out the terms and so forth to be able to afford loan. >> all right. and today's discussion draft removes federal reporting requirements on federal funding if state or local requirements are equivalent to the federal requirements. from your perspective, mr. voss, what effect would this provision have, and would it be as beneficial as some of us think it would be? and do you support it? >> mr. walden, we do support that concept, and it does help and facilitate the ability of the loan recipient to be able to ease the administrative burden of a project of this nature.
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when utilities go through, being able to show that a equal or more stringent requirement exists at the state level makes it much easier to facilitate the use of the loans in the administration of a project that is funded and financed that way. >> and is there something we should do in terms of prioritization or should we stay out of that? and by that i mean when we identify in the country a problem, let's say lead in the pipes or arsenic in water or something, should we be thinking about a way, or maybe it's already there, to target -- you know, a support to communities to deal specifically with those issues as opposed to just a leaky water system or something of that nature? >> mr. walden, every state that acts as the prime agency for srf funds has their own set of criteria that they use to prioritize projects, and typically those prioritizations involve things that are of
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critical public health need, and, therefore, most of the monies that our experience is projects go to those that have the highest priority to protect public health. >> then sort of the several billion dollar question that's before all of us, how do we pay for this? i know at the local level, my water bill i pay for. the federal level, we tend to just throw a number on a piece of paper, then go borrow it or find it or something. any -- are there any of these authorized programs out there that you would tell us really aren't working and we should move money from them to this? any ideas on how we should pay for this from the federal level other than giving our kids and grandkids the due bill later in their life? >> i think a short answer to that is, the newly created wifia program is a great example of where the burden on the federal treasury is de minimis.
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in that situation, it is a loan program, and therefore, those who are in receipt of wifia loans really are paying back to the federal treasury and the effect is very, very minor. >> okay. anybody else on the panel want to tackle the funding issue other than being recipients of the funding? >> would the chairman yield? >> of course. >> can someone -- under the wifia, which has been part of the discussion, it's my understanding for small communities, the requirements are so large that they can't apply. in fact, no loans have been made out of the wifia program yet. am i -- am i correct? or -- someone tell me what they've done with the wifia. mr. potter? >> we think wifia is in addition to srf. they think they're not mutually exclusive, we think they're complementary and should have equal funding attention.
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>> but to his point -- i represent eastern oregon, it is not as big as alaska, but we got a lot of these little tiny communities. >> but you were a broadcaster in alaska. >> that's right. kfrb fair bankbanks. the fact is of matter is any don't have a huge water department. the question is how do we scream line this and put the money in the pipe and ground and water system and not in the paperwork and reporting and all of that. is that what we're trying to get to here? >> mr. waldon, with respect to the wifia program, for example, small communities under the size of 25,000, the project size that is eligible is a $5 million project. states also can apply for wifia loans and they can bundle projects together from small communities to help facilitate that in that program.
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the ability of the small communities to administer an srf program, to that question, i think the ideas that we have previously talked about of streamlining some of the paperwork exercise and having best practices used, but more importantly, the idea of being able to demonstrate the ability to use state regulations to avoid the issues of the cross-cutting requirements of the federal level are all things that really help try to streamline that effort. >> chair now recognizes ranking member mr. poulen for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we've seen numerous problems in the safe water act that should be addressed in any legislation this committee passes to amend the safe drinking water act. biggest challenge is clearly the lack of funds but i want to quickly touch on a few others and my questions are of miss
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thorpe. does the discussion draft that's before us fix the weaknesses in the standard-setting process under the safe drinking water act? >> thank you, congressman pollone. the discussion draft, as i read it, didn't address any of the contaminant regulation national primary drink water regulation setting process at all. so it didn't -- it didn't go into that topic. >> all right. and the source water protection provisions in the statute have proven ineffective, and that's why my bill would create an entirely new program to ensure source water protection. does the discussion draft before us do enough to ensure source water protection in your opinion? >> congressman, i think if i recall the discussion draft did allow for some set-asides in drinking water, state revolving fund monies to do source water protection plans and to update those systems and states. so that -- we think that's a good idea. we do think there is some
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creative and some innovation that needs to be applied as we look at the future of the safe drinking water act, which really, right, as currently written doesn't do much to protect source water or to reinforce our other environmental and public health protection statutes and regulations. some interesting work could be done on that in the future. >> all right. thank you. now our democratic proposals also address threats to source wa water, including oil and gas development and climate change. does the discussion draft before us today address those threats? >> still to me, congressman? >> yeah. these are all to you. >> thank you, congressman pollone. i did not see anything on oil and gas activities and other sector threats to drinking water sources or on climate change and resilience. >> all right. one of the concerns we hear about most on drinking water is lead contamination. particularly concerns about lead service lines and lead in school drinking water.
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will this discussion draft get lead out of our homes and schools, or do we need to do more? >> i don't think the discussion draft addressed lead in schools or lead in water specifically. although as i mentioned in my testimony, increased tlorizat n authorizations and appropriations can help us with some aspects, the service line problems. >> we also hear about the need to restructure water systems to make sure the capacity to deliver water. does the discussion draft need to be strengthened to effectively address consolidati, in your opinion? >> i think some detail could be added. i think the discussion draft noted that this is one use of state revolving funds. so i think some of the detail we've seen in the bill that you, congressman, introduced, and in other places to support appropriate restructuring and
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consolidation would be helpful. >> all right. obviously in my opinion, this discussion draft needs a lot of work if it's going to actually address the problems we see in the safe drinking water act. so my hope is that my, colleagues will work with us as we go forward. i want to yield the rest of my time though to mr. mcnierny. >> i thank you the ranking member for yielding. i'll read a statement and i wonder if all the panel members agree with a yes or disagree with a no. the draft mostly continues with the status quo which is necessary and not sufficient to meet our nation's drinking water needs. >> i would agree with that, yes. >> yes, sir, i would agree with that statement. >> yes. >> yes. >> yes. >> yes? >> yes, sir. >> well, everybody said yes. i was going to take -- as just
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the ones that said yes, what -- name one thing briefly that you think would most improve the legislation. start with you. briefly. >> requiring that any funds being expedited be used economically, efficiently, that asset management and full life cycle pricing and full cost in the true value of water is reflected in the rates being charged to customers. >> yes, sir. i would support enhancement in asset management program requirements and codifying the amounts in the srf funding levels and strengthening the wifia authorizations. >> mr. fletcher? briefly now. >> technical assistance would be very important. >> very good. >> and that for small systems and rural communities. >> miss daniels? >> i would actually support being able to shift some of the work for source water protection
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plans to the srf because that would free up set-aside funds for more technical assistance and other things within that program. >> thank you. >> yes. epa's stated that various states have unobligated or unspent balances in their drinking can water/srf accounts. when those dollars are not in circulation they are not being used to improve drinking water infrastructure. so in combination with increased srf funding, we -- we, awwa, would urge congress to use all the necessary tools to help state primecy agencies put those unexpended funds to use in drinking water infrastructure. >> thank you. thorpe? quickly, please. >> to increase approved authorizations. i think creative use of technical assistance and state -- technical assistance in state programs to move toward having the most 21st century modern drinking water systems
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that we can nationwide. >> in addition to the domestic preference and consistent levels of funding i mentioned in my earlier remarks -- >> quickly, please. >> -- additional things that would improve the adoption of smart technology would would go a long way. >> thank you. >> chair now recognize the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm not going to take five minutes. we appear to be on the verge of having a bill that most people agree with on both sides of the aisle. i don't hear a lot of negativity. i guess my only question would be, the section that -- a, it says -- adds a new provision that if the federal reporting requirements on federal funding are pretty much the same as local requirements that you don't have to make the federal report. do you all agree with that? sounds like a good deal to me. >> yes.
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>> nobody has heartburn over there? >> no. >> yes, sir. >> with that, mr. chairman, i'm zbrg going to yield the rest of my time to mr. murphy of pennsylvania. >> in your testimony, you argued the president buy-america products should be loosened to make it easier to buy non-american product. am i correct? >> we supported modifying the language -- >> am i correct or not? to make it easier to buy non-american. is that a yes or no? >> i'm sorry. could you repeat the question? >> so, you said in your testimony you argued the present buy-american requirements were unrealistic and that the conditions for granting a waiver should be granted to make it easier to buy non-american products. did i understand that correctly? >> yes. >> okay. so are you willing to forgo u.s. taxpayer dollars for your water projects in order to buy your steel from wherever you want? >> no. >> well, then, what percent of
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funding from the federal government should you have cut in order to allow u.s. to support the economy of china and not the united states. >> that's not our intent, sir. >> if you're not buying american steel but you're using american taxpayers' money to buy products from other countries, that's how it works out. so intention or not, that's the outcome. so mr. proctor, in your testimony you discussed the benefits to the broader domestic steel industry of the -- [ inaudible ] what act would congress enacting a statute do to permanently have this procurement policy on domestic manufacturing and end jobs? >> i think it would accelerate the repatriation of jobs back here in the u.s. two give the signal it is worth investing in the new capital and capacity in the united states.
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we see what happens in the fitting business, jobs that went to china are coming back to the united states increasing competition as well as increased jobs and economic benefits. >> you speak of the lost opportunities for domestic industries. as well as administrative inconsistencies andinefficien inefficiencies it generates. >> it seems on one hand you are taking tax dollars from american workers, then using those tax dollars to fund the purchase of materials, and in the process taking away their livelihoods, number one. number two, the -- the agency that's charged with the administration of the srs is the environmental protection agency. when they impose regulations on american manufacturers that make thumb enx them uncompetitive so people go to china, india and other places to buy their products, they are so having the perverse effect of sending those manufacturing away not only eliminating jobs in the
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u.s. but sending them to places that have no regard not environment. >> like state-owned governments would also subsidize it. so what happens, you may have an american steel worker paying u.s. taxes. those taxes then go to help subsidize water projects in a community which then because of the onerous regulations the united states makes other country's steel cheaper and those communities then buy other country's steel which puts that steel worker out of a job. do i follow that correctly? >> that's exactly right. that's exactly right. and you are making the environment worse in the process. something around 25% of the particulate matter that falls on california comes from china. >> all the work we do in environmental improvements are just very small and wroeoverrid by what china does in a short period of time. >> that's correct. china produces more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases than all the other iron and steel manufacturing companies in the world combined. >> thank you. how big of a national problem is the undiscovered water systems
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containing pathogens? >> i mean it is really hard to quantify that. every year it seems we find one or two undiscovered water systems. mainly in our rural areas. when you're driving past a community, it is hard to see, are they on private wells? are they connected to a community water system. so often we find out about them because we get folks calling complaining about water quality and that sort of leads us to the investigation. >> thank you. i yield back. >> gentlemen yields back the time. chair now recognize the gentleman from california with be mr. peertters, for five minu. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thanks for having this hearing. it comes at an important time when we obviously heard issues like flint. we've got five-year drought ending in california and it is a good time to talk about sustainability and resiliency. we see reports that water prices would have to increase by 41% in the next five years to cover the cost of replacing infrastructure. a "new york times" op-ed by
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charles fishman said water is broken. data can fix it. he claims that more than any single step, modernizing water data would unleash water innovation like anything in this century. i want to explore that with some of you who have mentioned that. miss thorpe, you said in your testimony that innovation data and information systems could increase transparency, enhance public engagement and awareness, provide more effective oversight and ultimately lead to public -- increased public health protection. can you tell me kind of what are the primary drivers for the lack of data and what are the steps we might take to employ data to be doing something beyond what we all agree we're doing today but we need to do? >> thank you, congressman. i think it is not a lack of data necessarily as it may be a lack of and the to compile the data and then make it usable to not only regulators but to folks in the drinking water sector in the
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public interest and hub pipubli health communities. there's some interesting recommendations in that. some time late last year, the president's council of science advisors did an interesting report on drinking water data and urged folks to take a look at it. i do think some of the authorizations we've talked about today for state programs, as well as srfs, as well as ndpa itself could lead to progress. >> i guess i am looking for more specifics on the steps we're taking. sometimes i find if you leave it up to states to make these decisions, some make more progress than others if they're not gin the technical assistance we might be able to provide here. >> well, one simple step would be improving the technology we use both at epa and in states for making it possible for drinking water consumers to
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understand monitoring results in their water systems. not just lead, but others. that sort of thing. >> mr. potter, maybe you had some ideas about this as well. is it feasible to put water quality data online in real time? would that increase transparency? >> yes, sir, it is. was that directed to me? oh, i'm sorry. >> i was looking at proctor but -- i'm sorry. mr. potter. >> yes, sir, it is. we have real time water quality data that we do and can put on the web. >> is there something in this bill we should be doing to encourage that? >> i think encouragement of that in the asset management realm would be a perfect idea. another example would be use of automatic metering to measure use at the tap and compare that to production. that would be a great asset management tool to identify where your leaks are. there is lots of room for
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additional technology to be used in our industry. >> is that being successful employed in particular places? >> we are exploring that presently. >> you are exploring whether it is being employed or how it can be employed? >> how it can be used once it is deployed. we are transitioning to that technology right now. >> mr. vause, i got about a minute left. maybe you could tell us kind of -- we received a "d" on our drinking water infrastructure. you've talked about whether this bill appropriately addresses the water infrastructure needs. what funding levels would you recommend adding in to each bracket and briefly, why would you do that? >> mr. peters, we talked earlier about the fact that we would recommend appropriations at the full authorization level for wifia at $45 million in fiscal year 18, a doubling of the srf water and waste water from their current fiscal year 17 levels for fiscal year 18. to the issue of the data and the
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information, if that is part of this question as well, i concur with what was said. using it for asset management, but also from security and preparedness, having on-time real-time data on water system quality i think is a very, very vital thing. and i think the pwss programs and supporting the states in their efforts at not less than the current funding levels are really important to go forward. >> great. just along the lines of we have something here that we can find wide agreement on but i think we can do more and i hope we take the opportunity to improve off of the standards things that we've been doing for a long time. i appreciate all the witnesses for being here today. i yield back. >> gentleman's time has expired. i recognize myself for five minutes. to the group, it maybe goes to you, mr. proctor. about about energy efficiency.
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in new york and vermont, we've worked together on trying to find ways of efficiency. one of the ways i'm concerned about this is -- i'm 1 of 2 engineers in congress. one thing we always talk about is how do we improve efficiency. and i think a smart grid system could be very interesting with our meters. i think you were alluding to that perhaps in your testimony because if we have 240,000 breaks during a year, and we lose maybe anywhere from 20%-plus of our water, that's not efficient. electricity is loss in motors and generating pumps to move that and the water we're moving, the connection calls and all the process, so the efficiency. i know that europe is investing about $8 billion in the next three years in a smart metering system. do you see that as being part of the solution of how we can be
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more prudent in our water programs? >> absolutely. i would like to make two points about that. one is, the smart technology that's emerging right now does create the opportunity to monitor, as well as meter, water that's flowing through our distribution systems. so you can detect leaks. and when you can detect the leaks, you can detect -- you know exactly where it is so you don't spend a lot of time looking around trying to find it so you can repair it. >> should we -- if europe is so much out in front with $8 billion, do you know what kind of numbers we're putting into this research and into a smart meter? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> if you could get back to me on that. the other thing i want to talk about, rural water. i come from west virginia. we have a lot of areas that are really hurting for are water and i'm kind of thinking in alaska you've got a similar situation. and we know around the world there are some deficiencies with
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that, people can't get access to water and there is a program that is being developed in west virginia at a high-value university with a group out of denver in consolidation or coordination with the university. they've been able to get it now to the point where they can produce water now at 27 cents per person per day. that's pretty competitive with it. so i'm wondering whether or not that's something that we should -- first, are you aware of the catharis program? >> i am not aware of that particular program myself, but at our state, in alaska, for example, there are several ways that we're researching in partnership with the epa ways to improve water supply to many rural areas of our state. those include using innovation in trying to provide recycling and reuse technologies so that for the limited supplies that
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are available, that there are ways in which we can improve at a household level the ability to have -- i know their program is -- what they're trying to develop there is also being able to use solar panels so they can go to areas without electricity and still be able to process water for families in that immediate area. i think it also has the opportunity for us with are we have some serious leaks where people can't get water, that a mobile unit could come in and be able to provide them water service during the interim period of time. i'm very optimistic that this is -- these mobile units could be very helpful to us. so i thank you on that. ahead of -- this is an example of -- when i see water problems -- i've designed thousands of miles of water system. this is a good one-inch water line in west virginia that probably has 80% of this polluted that they can't pass water through. this is what we see all across america. that's why this urgency of
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getting something done so that these families can have dependable, clean water. this certainly is unable to provide that. so i thank you for that and i yield the balance of my time -- who do we have next? mr. green, you are recognized for five minutes. >> i want to thank our chairman and ranking mem br for holding hearings today. water challenges are all over the country. where i'm from in texas, we have some areas that are urban areas outside the city limits and none of the cities will annex it because the low property values. they just can't afford to come in and put new water lines or streets or anything else. so what i was going to see, if
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these unincorporated communities are very urban and i'm sure rural areas have the same problem with low property values. in texas we created decades ago water districts that are actually local levels of government for water and sue es and other things if they would like. but then you can't even create that if you have low value for your property because you can't sell bonds if you can't afford to pay them off. is there a federal program for these areas similar to what rural water authorities would be to help get water and sewer? because again, these are very urban areas. but our traditional sources of water and sewer are not there. what they have, they have water wells and septic tanks that are, again, in urban areas not designed to have that much usage, i guess. is there anybody on the panel that has a federal program that would help that? our county commissioners have helped with what they can.
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but again, they don't have the budget oftentimes except to provide just a little bit of money so that we have a partner but we would need federal funding to do it in a low-wealth area. anybody have any -- yes, sir. >> rural development has their water loan and grant program. in illinois my system itself was unserved back in the late '80s, and we got a group of people together that tried to form this water system. and they went and talked to people and people put deposits in of $20. cost them $150 to get the meter once we had funding. but we went to farmer home administration, got our first loan and grant was $2.5 million. and we served those people. and we've continued to do that through this program. and i could only i guess assume that there could be somebody in that area that would take the bull by the horns and try to do
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the same thing there. >> mr. proctor, can you tell us a little bit about the role your company plays in drinking water infrastructure projects. >> yes, sir. we manufacture the basic building blocks for the nation's water infrastructure. we make pipe valves, fittings, fire hydrants and all those related products. >> coming from houston and a whole bunch of chemical plants that make pcv pipe. i know there is some competition because pcv typically doesn't rust, but there's other problems with it, also. so what is the -- what would you guess would be the usage of pcv compared to metal pipes? >> i'm not sure what the percentages are exactly, but i can say this, that iron is much more durable than pvc, and there are modern techniques that virtually elimination the corrosion issue for pipe that's installed today. but even without that, if you look at the track record of
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iron, as someone mentioned earlier, there was a problem that occurred just the other day for a pipe manufactured in 1860. that was all cast iron. today we have ductal iron that's even stronger and lasts even longer. >> okay. and i know in my area though, when we see new subdivision withes bimt, i almost always see it being built by pcv, again because local prices and things like that goes there. what are the steps that congress and epa can take to ensure that we have the trained workers who need to modernize and maintain our water system in our district? like i said earlier, we have disadvantaged communities that do not have resources to invest in some of the areas in our district would be called a colonia which decades ago was created along the border. somebody go by, set out a subdivision but they provide any water or sewer so people would buy a lot and the only way they
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could get water is through their own well or septic tank. but i'm also interested in training for the employees that need to be putting these systems in. anybody on the panel? yes, sir. >> texas rural water association has circuit routers and technical assistance and training for people like that, for operators that want to learn how to operate a system and get certified. it's free of charge to these small communities. >> great. thank you. i've run out of time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> chair now recognizes gentleman from mississippi, mr. harper for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing. i know this is an issue we've looked at years and continue to be concerned about. i want to thank each witness for being here and taking time to help us. this is something that, as we look at the aging infrastructure in so many of these systems and how we're doing that, i agree,
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too, mr. fletcher, the circuit riders in my state of mississippi have done a remarkable job of helping areas that maybe don't have the resources. i think that's been a great value across the country where those have been used. i know that msome of this was t upon earlier but i want to go a little bit deeper. in your written testimony you emphasize the need for associety management to be encouraged but not mandated. is there agreement amongst the industry as to what constitutes good asset management practices? >> there are basically five models and they resolve around basic concepts. the concepts are more or less solidifies between the two
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models. what constitutes good practice really gets to the level of how well you practice each one of those five steps. within the asset management. i would say generally, yes is the answer to that question. >> but also in that, these are sometimes goals or objectives, but how they're met i guess depends upon the resources and determination of each group. would that be right? >> there is. there are policy considerations, considerations that go to what are the necessary levels of service that need to be provided for a particular community. those are objectives that are set through public policy. there are what are also besides the required levels of service are what are the tolerances that a community has for the degree of risk that they are willing to accept or not accept. again, those are public policy choices that are made best at the local level. so there is no one specific answer. >> sure. of course, you're here wearing
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more than one hat, but over half of the american water works association -- but on behalf of them. what is that organization doing to better support that asset management? >> yes. we provide through a variety and suite of educational offerings both in printed materials, in conferences, in workshops, webinars and so forth, a variety of opportunities for practitioners to be able to learn about these concepts, to see how they're applied, both in the united states and elsewhere, and to bring that information down to the level that allows people from the top executive level down to the plant floor and operators to have the opportunities, the educational opportunities that are necessary to learn how to best apply those practices for their utilities. >> let's just look at where we are right now. if we were talking about what industry or government could do
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that might encourage better asset management, does something stand out that you would give us as a take-away that you want to make sure we don't miss? >> i think the ability to have the environmental protection agency to be able to monitor these developments and provide materials on a periodic basis to update, as time progresses. i think that's an important thing to include in this particular legislation, is to ask the administrator to be able to update those on a regular basis and to make them available to all water systems across the united states. i think that's one aspect. the second aspect that i think is as important is to provide the encouragement through providing a positive incentive to those systems that are interested in securing an srf loan to be able to reward them for having made positive steps in advancing and adopting those
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practices at their local utility, not to penalize anyone for not having done so, but to reinforce through positive rewards, if you will, the ability to work with the agencies and to secure loans so that there is a recognition that advancing these practices leads to good things for utilities. >> do you believe you have sufficiently objective criteria to measure that progress? >> i think there are ways to measure that. we would certainly be interested working with the panel here to help identify those specific things that would be able to show measurable progress. >> thank you very much. with that i yield back. >> gentleman yields back his time. >> i know we are rushing off to the briefing for all the house members. i just wanted to offer this observation, that everyone is indicating that we need more federal dollars to address what is a basic, core bit of
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infrastructure that speaks to our needs, individual needs, household needs and business needs. but if we can find it in our means to provide for $70 billion from the general fund for roads and bridges with the fas act, i think we need to step up and say, look, this is a hidden infrastructure that cannot be out of sight and out of mind. we need to do better, we need to prioritize here and not set aside the needs here that should be funded with additional resources from the federal budget based on recent happenings here in d.c. >> i applaud my colleague for being passionate and committed, so thank you for that. seeing no further members wish to ask questions for the panel, i would like to thank you all for coming and also coming early. again in my 20 years, this is probably the earliest hearing i've been involved with. before we conclude, i would like to ask unanimous consent to submit the following document
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for the record, a letter from the united states steel workers. without objection, so ordered. pursuant to committee rules, i remind members that they have ten business days to submit additional questions for the record and i ask witnesses submit their responses within ten business days of receipt of the questions. you may get a little bit more since we're so busy this morning. i think minority counsel warned you all about that previously. upon receipt of the questions. without objection, the subcommittee is adjourned. later today on c-span3, canada's national defense minister talks about his country's defense policy, support for nato, protecting canada's arctic territory and funding for troops and equipment. hosted by the wilson center, it
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is live at 5:00 p.m. eastern. 4 are . never let anyone define you. and that is the first lesson i want to leave you with. only you define who you are. only you. >> our hearts should be open, not just in falling in love but to the world. we need to look. we need to care. and we need to contribute. >> don't ever let anyone tell you that your dreams are silly. and if you have to look back on your life, regret the things that you did and not what you didn't do. >> nothing stays still. things will change. the question for you is whether and how you will participate in the process of creative change. >> just a few past commencement speeches from the c-span video library. watch more of this year's commencement speeches on


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