U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming co-led her first subcommittee hearing today in a joint full committee and subcommittee hearing on water infrastructure projects. During the Environment and Public Works Committee and Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee hearing entitled “Examining the Backlog in Drinking Water and Waste Water Infrastructure Projects,” Sen. Lummis noted the importance of flexibility regarding water infrastructure regulations for small communities like those across Wyoming.
During her opening statement, Sen. Lummis said:
“Most of our nation’s drinking water and wastewater utilities are small. Over 90 percent of the country’s roughly 50,000 community water systems serve populations fewer than 10,000 people. Roughly 80 percent of America’s 17,000 wastewater utilities serve populations fewer than 10,000 people.
“Rural and small communities like many found in my state of Wyoming have greater difficulty affording public wastewater service due to low population density and lack of economies of scale. Rural communities also have lower average median household incomes and often have higher rates of poverty, only compounding the challenge. It follows then that rural water and wastewater servicers have a more difficult time complying with Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act regulations and permits. Large communities often have extensive teams of experts including highly trained operators, engineers, and chemists, while smaller communities face the regulatory burdens and the same complex systems, albeit smaller in scale. They often have only one operator doing multiple jobs. These factors reinforce the need for increased flexibility and relief for these communities.”
During her opening statement, Sen. Lummis cited communications between her office and Mark Pepper, the Executive Director of the Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems, regarding the work he and his team have been doing to make sure water continued to flow to Wyoming residents during recent snow and ice storms. The Senator showed photos of a water tank in the Casper area that suffered a power failure due to extreme ice and winter weather.
To watch Sen. Lummis give her full opening statement, click here.