Rep. Garamendi Aims to Steer Clean Water Funding to For-Profit Corporations

160+ groups urge Congress to reject pro-privatization amendment to legislation weakening clean water permitting
Published Jan 31, 2024
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Clean Water

160+ groups urge Congress to reject pro-privatization amendment to legislation weakening clean water permitting
160+ groups urge Congress to reject pro-privatization amendment to legislation weakening clean water permitting

In advance of a today, 163 environmental, labor, religious, social justice and community-based organizations are speaking out against an amendment that would open up federal wastewater funding to large investor-owned corporations. 

As they explain in a letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, this dramatic move would break with decades of tradition and steer much-needed public funding to large private entities.

Rep. John Garamendi (CA-08) has proposed this pro-privatization amendment () to legislation that would weaken clean water permitting regulations. The amendment includes the text of the Clean Water SRF Parity Act (HR 250), which would allow large investor-owned wastewater utilities to access the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Since its establishment in the 1980s, the low-interest loans and subsidies have been restricted to publicly owned treatment works. Limiting federal wastewater support to publicly owned systems dates to the construction grants program of 1956. 

In response, Mary Grant, Food & Water Watch Public Water for All Campaign Director, issued the following statement:

“We cannot allow the corporate water lobby to take federal clean water funding away from our municipal sewer systems. The Clean Water SRF Parity Act would serve to grease the wheels on sewer privatization, and would harm disadvantaged communities already struggling to access the Clean Water State Revolving Funds. Congress must reject the Clean Water SRF Parity Act, and provide reliable funding to our publicly owned wastewater providers to help keep services safe, reliable and affordable service and protect the environment.”  The letter warns that the amendment would cut into the pool of available funding for local governments by transferring to for-profit sewer corporations. The needs of publicly owned wastewater systems are substantial and growing every year because of aging infrastructure, increasingly severe wet weather events and rising sea levels, and stronger water quality regulations. 

The letter was signed by American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the nation’s largest public service employees union; Center for Biological Diversity; Corporate Accountability; Food & Water Watch; For Love of Water (FLOW); Freshwater Future; In the Public Interest; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice; Mothers Out Front – National; Neighbors Opposing Privatization Efforts (NOPE); PODER; Taproot Earth; The Story of Stuff Project; The Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans; Waterkeeper Alliance;  We the People of Detroit; and more than 100 other organizations. 

Press Contact: Peter Hart [email protected]

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