Anticipating massive funding cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump, the city is acknowledging the risk of the federal government slashing one of its major environmental programs.
Madison Water Utility signed onto a letter Thursday to newly-confirmed EPA head Scott Pruitt outlining benefits of their WaterSense program, a private-public partnership the city joined in 2008. The letter is authored by Alliance for Water Efficiency and supported by several water utilities, manufacturers, distributors and consumer groups.
WaterSense focuses on educating the community about water efficient products and services. The program has saved 1.6 trillion tons of water since its launch in 2006, according to city officials.
Because WaterSense has never been authorized by Congress, its costs have been picked up in the past by discretionary funds available to EPA administrators.
Trump’s proposed budget reduces federal funding to the EPA by around 31 percent from its 2017 level. The new budget level of $5.8 billion would cut more than 50 programs and 32,000 jobs from the agency.
“Saving water helps protect our water future,” the letter said. “It means we can serve more people today and secure supplies for future generations. It saves water for emergencies. And, it leaves more water in lakes, rivers and underground aquifers to support water-based recreation and wildlife habitat.”