Many of the wastewater systems that Americans rely on to protect public health and the environment are reaching the end of their useful lives. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that a potential gap between future needs and current spending for wastewater infrastructure of $150 billion to $400 billion could occur over the next decade. Various approaches have been proposed to bridge this potential gap. One is to establish a clean water trust fund. This testimony summarizes findings of a May 2009 report (GAO-09-657), where GAO was asked to examine (1) stakeholders' views on the issues that would need to be addressed in designing and establishing a clean water trust fund and (2) potential options that could generate about $10 billion annually in revenue to support a clean water trust fund. GAO administered a questionnaire to 28 national organizations representing stakeholders from the wastewater and drinking water industries, state and local governments, engineers, and environmental groups and received 22 responses; reviewed proposals and industry papers; and used the most current data to estimate revenue on a range of products and activities. While the May report identified a number of funding options for policymakers to consider, GAO did not endorse any option and does not have a position on whether or not a trust fund should be established. GAO did not make any recommendations in its report.
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