Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Honorable Carole A. Fiola, House Chair
The Honorable Jacob R. Oliveira, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government
State House, Boston
Dear Chair Fiola, Chair Oliveira, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,
On behalf of the 351 cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is pleased to write in support of H. 2099 and S. 1293, An Act providing for the establishment of sustainable water resource funds. This legislation would provide clarity for municipalities as they seek to fund essential water system investments through water banking.
Over the past several years, municipalities across the Commonwealth have faced severe cost increases to provide essential services including the provision of clean drinking water as well as stormwater and wastewater management. A number of complications have prompted rate increases in small and large communities alike. Water source contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), other environmental contaminants, and aging infrastructure demand local attention and investment. Municipal leaders and the dedicated staff within their public water systems are devoted to the provision of safe drinking water and prudent water management. These professionals will do what is necessary to ensure that the public’s trust and confidence in these resources remains strong.
However, the tax-limited environment in Massachusetts through Proposition 2½ provides many communities with flawed choices: to consider an override and increase local property tax burdens or to reduce funding for existing programs and services to maintain sufficient funding for water management.
Consequently, municipalities often seek to raise funds for this work ahead of time through water banking, where local fees are established with the exclusive purpose to remedy and offset the financial impacts of water system investments. Water banking is an essential tool available to cities and towns, but it does not currently accommodate the rapidly increasing needs for municipal water management systems.
The legislation before the Committee would expand the uses of water banking under Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws. H. 2099 and S. 1293 would expand the existing law to further define the scope of applicability for these funds. Projects enumerated in this bill are essential to cities and towns and would directly support the residents of Massachusetts. These projects range from the acquisition of land to protect water supply sources, the removal of hazardous dams that pose flooding risks, to the expansion of water and wastewater treatment systems to increase local capacity.
The consequences of climate change, increasingly severe and frequent weather events, and a greater scientific understanding of environmental contaminants in drinking water have driven more attention and urgency to these issues for state and local leaders. State and federal investments for water infrastructure needs have been essential, but municipalities must rely on stable, long-term sources of revenue to support this important local work. Therefore, we respectfully ask the Committee to favorably report out H. 2099 and S. 1293 and promote water banking as an option for communities across the Commonwealth.
We deeply appreciate the Committee’s favorable report on this bill last session and for considering our comments. If you have any questions or desire further information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Legislative Analyst Josie Ahlberg at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
MMA Executive Director and CEO