Tag Archives: Therese Murray

Water Dialogue Flowing on Beacon Hill

August is the driest month of the year in Massachusetts, but what has been prominent in the news? Water. And that’s a good thing.

With the transportation funding-dominated state budget finalized in late July, lawmakers are turning their attention to what many have been saying is another one of the state’s biggest needs – dedicating more resources to repair the state’s old and inefficient water infrastructure.

Senator James Eldridge of Acton has been one of the leading voices in the legislature. He told State House News Service this week that he is working on a legislative package that would propose a separate fund for providing cities and towns grants for water infrastructure projects, especially innovative ones. That was one of the recommendations in a 2012 report of the state’s Water Infrastructure Finance Commission, which was charged with developing a comprehensive, long-range water infrastructure finance plan for the Commonwealth and its municipalities.

Eldridge spelled out the water infrastructure crisis in a newspaper op-ed column this week written with State Rep. Carolyn Dykema of Holliston, his co-chair on the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission.

“Water infrastructure is crucial to our public health, quality of life issues and economy and it’s significant that Senate President Therese Murray highlighted water infrastructure as a priority this legislative session,” the legislators wrote. “It’s up to all of us . . . to work together to protect our state’s water supply and water resources for future generations. The quality of life of our residents and economic prosperity depend on it.”

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Let’s Talk Water Infrastructure Funding

Water infrastructure is as critical to economic development as transportation infrastructure. Communities that cannot provide adequate water supplies and wastewater treatment, at reasonable costs, will be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to economic development. Adequate water infrastructure also meets what we now consider to be basic human needs – clean water to drink and sanitary waste treatment to protect public health. We’ve heard some great news lately. Governor Patrick expanded his reference to infrastructure to include public infrastructure other than transportation and schools. And, Senate President Therese Murray specifically acknowledged the need to address drinking water and wastewater reform, noting that the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission concluded that the Commonwealth is facing a gap of approximately $10.2 billion in funding for drinking water and $11.2 billion in funding for wastewater over the next twenty years. Without funding assistance from the state and federal governments, publicly owned drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities cannot catch up on maintenance and capital investment back logs, let alone keep up with regulatory requirements. Tell us your ideas on how we can address the funding gaps?