Allocation of Wastewater Treatment Assistance: Formula and Other Changes [October 30, 2014] [open pdf - 294KB]
"Congress established a statutory formula governing distribution of financial aid for municipal wastewater treatment in the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. Since then, Congress has modified the formula and incorporated other eligibility changes five times. Federal funds are provided to states through annual appropriations according to the statutory formula to assist local governments in constructing wastewater treatment projects in compliance with federal standards. The most recent formula change, enacted in 1987, continues to apply to distribution of federal grants to capitalize state revolving loan funds (SRFs) for similar activities. The current state-by-state allotment is a complex formulation consisting basically of two elements, state population and 'need.' The latter refers to states' estimates of capital costs for wastewater projects necessary for compliance with the act. Surveys of funding needs have been done since the 1960s and became an element of distributing CWA funds in 1972. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in consultation with states has prepared 15 clean water needs surveys since then (the most recent was released in 2010) to provide information to policymakers on the nation's total funding needs, as well as needs for certain types of projects. This report describes the formula and eligibility changes adopted by Congress since 1972, revealing the interplay and decisionmaking by Congress on factors to include in the formula. Two types of trends and institutional preferences can be discerned in these actions. First, there are differences over the use of 'need' and population factors in the allocation formula itself. Over time, the weighting and preference given to certain factors in the allocation formula have become increasingly complex and difficult to discern. Second, there is a gradual increase in restrictions on types of wastewater treatment projects eligible for federal assistance."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31073
National Agricultural Law Center: http://nationalaglawcenter.org/