Government Accountability Office (GAO) Studies

January 2008

In January 2008, former Representative Al Wynn (D-MD) and Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the regulation of bottled water, its impact on municipal landfills, and the energy used to manufacture and transport this product. The lawmakers also raised questions about the purity of bottled water and whether the water source is listed on product labels. IBWA met with the GAO investigators during 2008 to answer their questions, and we submitted background materials and position papers for them to consider as they write their final report, which will likely be issued in February 2009.

Also in January 2008, Representatives James Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Earl Blumenauer (D-NY) requested a study the by GAO on the potential funding mechanisms and revenue sources for a Clean Water Trust Fund. They requested the funding mechanism to be equitable, broad based, and support annual funding levels of $10 billion per year, and requested that the GAO consult with federal, state and local agencies; representatives from business, industry, publicly owned treatment works, and other interested parties. During the 109th Congress the National Association of Clean Water Agencies supported a beverage tax to fund the Clean Water Trust Fund, and they are still supporting that tax as one of three possible revenue sources for the Fund. The other two are; 1) a tax on flushable products; and 2) fees on corporate income across sectors discharging to wastewater treatment plants. A GAO report is expected to be completed in early January 2009, and Chairman Oberstar has already indicated that infrastructure improvements will be one his priorities in the Congress during 2009.