Trump Administration’s Proposed Budget Undermines Clean Water

Posted on February 14, 2018 by

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget leaves our nation’s water imperiled. Cutting EPA’s budget would devastate 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 claims to support the rebuilding of America’s drinking water infrastructure by 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 source water protection, reducing oversight and assistance for drinking water systems, and slashing research for long term drinking water contamination challenges, among other steep reductions. Cuts to EPA grant programs would also undermine state agency funding, which gives states the resources to implement federal water safeguards.

Cutbacks 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/ Fiscal Year 2018 Annualized Continuing Resolution)

  • Beach/Fish Programs ($1.364 million / $1.638 million): This program helps protect communities that rely on locally caught fish, as well as monitoring and notifications for beaches.
  • Beaches Protection ($9.540 million/ $9.484 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 ($169.772 million / $169.754 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 ($11.694 million / $10.102 million) This program protects marine ecosystems from polluting discharges.
  • National Estuary Program/Coastal Waterways ($26.800 million / $26.542 million) This program works to restore the estuaries and coastal watershed.
  • Water Quality Research and Support Grants ($20.491 million / $16.686 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 / $3.079 million) This voluntary program, modelled after the successful Energy Star program, certifies and labels water efficient appliances to help reduce water use.
  • State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) for water and wastewater infrastructure assistance for:

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. (FY 2017 Actual to FY 2018 Annualized CR to FY 2019 proposed budget)

  • Safe and Sustainable Water Resources – Research and Development ($104.688 million to $105.535 to $67.26 million – 36% cut) This research program is working to solve chemical and microbial contaminant problems in drinking water systems. SSWR research program work will in FY 2019 will focus on nutrients, harmful algal blooms, and water infrastructure (including reuse).
  • Pollution Control – Clean Water Act Sec. 106 ($227.686 to $229.239 to $153.683 million – 33% cut) This grant program provides assistance to states and tribes to prevent surface and groundwater pollution.
  • Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) ($101.126 to $101.271 to $67.892 million – 33% cut): 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) ($10.572 to $10.435 to $6.995 million – 33% cut): 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 ($99.434 to $99.695 to $84.138 million – 16% cut) 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. EPA will use these funds to develop revisions to Lead and Copper Rule and to develop regulations to implement the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act and the Reductions of Lead in Drinking Water Act.
  • Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUST) ($92.143 to $91.317 to $47.532 million –  48% cut): 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 ($198.589 to $198.886 to $174.975 million – 12% cut) and Wetland Protection ($20.448 to $20.922 to $17.913 million – 14 % cut)

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 ($15.867 to $14.561 to $9.762 million – 37% or 33% cut, depending on baseline used) 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 ($17.940 to $18.085 to $15.673 million – 13% cut) These programs help prevent, monitor and respond to oil spills that can impact waterways and groundwater quality. Budget includes a new fee in the Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Program to better support compliance assistance work for Facility Response Plan and Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure facilities.
  • Homeland Security: Critical Infrastructure Protection ($9.950 to $9.153 million to $5.216 million – 48% to  43% cut depending on baseline used) 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:

These funds will be used for the construction of wastewater and drinking water facilities to address sanitation problems unique to this area.

The proposed budget would eliminate most of EPA’s geographic programs—including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative—and drastically reduce funding for the rest. Many of these programs are specifically designed to protect and clean up major water bodies 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. (FY 2017 Actual / FY2018 Annualized CR)

  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative ($353.207 to $297.963 to $30.0 million –  92% to 90% reduction depending on baseline used)
  • Gulf of Mexico ($3.393 million/ $8.484 million)
  • Lake Champlain ($4.395 million / $4.369 million)
  • Long Island Sound ($7.989 / $7.946 million)
  • Puget Sound ($27.971 / $27.810 million)
  • San Francisco Bay ($4.493 / $4.786 million)
  • South Florida: Everglades, Florida Keys, and coral reefs ($1.624 million / $1.692 million)
  • Other geographic program areas including: Lake Pontchartrain, Southern New England Estuary, (SNEE) and Northwest Forest Program ($6.395 million / $7.343 million)
  • Chesapeake Bay ($66.774 to $72.504  to $7.3 million –  90% reduction)


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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.