SEQUESTRATION HITS US ALL
Sequestration is the word we are all using to explain the failure of the Congress to put together a budget with appropriate revenues and expenditures. Congress can’t figure out how to reach a budget agreement, so the federal government set itself up for mandatory cuts in services. I had a recent grant sequestered, then cancelled. It really could have helped a local community with long-term water supply and quality problems identify adaptation and mitigation strategies fo rites future. Minor money for Washington, but a big deal down here. Likewise I have spent the last 6 months on a subcommittee for USGS that is focusing on what could be cut from USGS. That means less testing water quality, water levels in groundwater, stream gauges and less evaluation of results. Most of the water issues USGS looks at crosses local and even state lines. Since we all rely on water, this is at national concern. Precisely when we need the information most, we may be getting less. Expect to start seeing more sequestration issues.
The problem is that the biggest expenses, social security and debt, cannot be cut without major backlash in the financial and voter markets. So the cuts come from the smaller accounts – things like the federal share of state revolving funds, water research and water/wastewater programs. The community and tribal assistance account was slashed $210 million while the environmental program budget was cut $135 million. While some may be cheering EPA cutbacks, the reality for water and wastewater users is less federal assistance to our industry. That means more of the onus is on us, and on our customers. The unintended consequences of the failure of Congress to act….