CLIFTON, N.J. — At the site of one of North Jersey’s worst water main breaks in the past year, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced bipartisan legislation aimed at creating jobs through upgrading our degraded water infrastructure in a way that is more affordable for water customers. The Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011 (H.R. 1802) provides for the removal of state volume caps on private activity bonds (PABs) for water and wastewater financing. Congress has already exempted airports, intercity high-speed rail, and solid waste disposal sites from these bond caps.

“Right here, less then a year ago, tens of thousands of residents of Clifton and Passaic were left with little to no water pressure and had to boil their water, after a 51-inch pipe burst, leaking 40 million gallons of water,” said Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means and Budgets Committees. “Experts say that our water systems need $500 billion in investment in order to meet safe drinking water and sanitation needs over the next 20 years. That is why last week, I, along with Rep. Geoff Davis, introduced the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011 in the House, and Sen. Menendez and Sen. Mike Crapo introduced the same legislation in the Senate, which aims to leverage private capital to repair our pipes while also creating jobs. This legislation will stimulate the economy and create good jobs, while also providing us with the necessary pipes to avoid water main disasters that occur too often.

“We’re all too familiar with the increasing frequency of water main breaks that unexpectedly flood random areas, disrupting businesses, transportation, and the daily lives of so many on any given day,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation could create over a million jobs leveraging a modest investment by the federal government into billions of dollars of critical private economic investment to upgrade and rebuild aging water infrastructure in communities across the nation. Creating private sector jobs to ensure American families have reliable access to clean water is a win for our workers, taxpayers, and the communities we live in.”

The legislation would allow water systems easier access to capital throughout the nation. PAB issuance would be one of the fastest forms of federal assistance when applied to water and wastewater projects, with only 90 to 120 days needed to complete the process — from approval to sale.