Trump’s Dirty Water Budget

photo: Acid mine runoff in Ohio, 1974, EPA Documerica

How the Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Budget will Pollute America’s Water

Source: EPA FY18 Budget Brief

President Trump’s proposed budget would be a disaster for our nation’s water. Cutting EPA’s budget would handcuff its ability to enforce water pollution laws and regulations, help states clean up polluted water bodies, protect groundwater, restore beaches and coastal areas, oversee compliance with drinking water standards, and provide assistance to water systems. The Trump Administration pays lip service to drinking water infrastructure touting continued funding for the State Revolving Funds and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), yet this budget severely undermines any water infrastructure investment by cutting funding for sourcewater protection, reducing in oversight and assistance for drinking water systems, and slashing research for long term drinking water contamination challenges, among many other reckless cuts. Cuts to EPA grant programs would also undermine state agency funding, which gives states the resources to implement federal water safeguards.

In addition to the many short-sighted cuts to water specific funding, reductions in other programs will also lead to increased water pollution and negative health outcomes as a result of weakened safeguards for toxic chemicals and air pollution, cleanup of hazardous sites, elimination of the environmental justice office, slashing funding for waste management and overall lack of enforcement resources.

The massive cuts to EPA’s budget include a number of water programs that would be completely eliminated. Scrapping these programs would leave states and local communities to pick up the bill or face the consequences of increased water pollution. (Fiscal Year 2017 actual budget)

  • Beach and Fish Programs ($1.978 million): These programs help protect communities that rely on locally caught fish, as well as monitoring and notifications for beaches.
  • Beaches Protection ($9.549 million): BEACH Act grants are awarded to eligible coastal and Great Lakes states, territories, and tribes to develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs to protect beach-goers from contamination.
  • Nonpoint Source - Clean Water Act Sec. 319 ($164.601 million): Under Section 319, states, territories and tribes receive grant money that supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects..
  • Marine Pollution Program ($10.161 million): This program protects marine ecosystems from polluting discharges.
  • National Estuary Program/Coastal Waterways ($26.723 million): This program works to restore the estuaries and coastal watershed.
  • Water Quality Research and Support Grants ($26.800 million): EPA funds water research grants to develop and support the science and tools necessary to develop sustainable solutions to 21st century water resource problems, ensuring water quality and availability in order to protect human and ecosystem health.
  • WaterSense Program ($3.075 million): This voluntary program, modelled after the successful Energy Star program, certifies and labels water efficient appliances to help reduce water use.
  • Homeland Security: Critical Infrastructure Protection ($11.489 million): This program works to protect attacks on infrastructure, including limiting threats to water systems and improving drinking water security.
  • State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) for water and wastewater infrastructure assistance for:
  • Alaska Native Villages ($19.962 million)
  • Mexico Border ($9.981 million)

Many critical water programs would receive significant cuts. These reductions would limit the effectiveness and scope of EPA, state, local and tribal programs that protect clean water. (FY2017 actual to FY2018 proposed budget)

  • Safe and Sustainable Water Resources - Research and Development ($102.132 to $68.52 million): This research program is working to solve chemical and microbial contaminant problems in drinking water systems.
  • Pollution Control - Clean Water Act Sec. 106 ($230.367 to $71.23 million): This grant program provides assistance to states and tribes to prevent surface and groundwater pollution.
  • Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) ($101.785 to $71.238 million): This program - currently dramatically underfunded given the expectations for state agency effort - provides assistance to states and tribes to implement the Safe Drinking Water Act, including contaminant limits in treated water and reduction of lead at the tap.
  • Underground Injection Control (UIC) ($10.486 to $7.340 million): This Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) program protects underground sources of drinking water from activities such as the injection of oil and gas wastewater and other fluids into disposal and enhanced recovery wells, injection of for uranium mining, and disposal of hazardous wastes. Cutting funding to states would put groundwater at risk, and limit the ability of regulators to stop human-caused earthquakes that can result from injection activities.
  • Drinking Water Programs ($96.319 to $80.044 million): EPA plays a key role in identifying contaminants for regulation, overseeing compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, developing laboratory methods and working with states, tribes and local entities to implement drinking water regulations and assist water systems..
  • Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) ($91.766 to $47.429 million): This program provides resources for the prevention, detection and cleanup of toxic releases from underground storage tanks, a pervasive threat to groundwater across the country.
  • Surface Water Protection Program ($199.875 to $174.975 million): This critical area of EPA’s work to implement the Clean Water Act includes a number of programs including: water quality criteria; standards and technology; National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES); water monitoring; Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs); watershed management; water infrastructure and grants management; core wetlands programs and Clean Water Act Section 106 program management.
  • Wetlands Program Development ($14.633 to $10.243): This grant program supports state and tribal wetlands management programs to reduce wetlands destruction and provide critical water quality, habitat, and flood control benefits.
  • Inland Oil Spill Programs ($18.175 to $15.717): These programs help prevent, monitor and respond to oil spills that can impact waterways and groundwater quality.

The proposed budget would eliminate all of EPA’s geographic programs. Many of these programs are specifically designed to protect and clean up major waterbodies or to improve water infrastructure. Cutting these geographic programs will have devastating effects on water quality, and communities who rely on these waters for their livelihoods. (FY2017 actual budget)