Senators Announce Legislation for Billions in Water Infrastructure Funding

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee has passed legislation that will make significant investments in water recycling programs and resources. The two pieces of legislation — America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 — include numerous provisions that will advance the adoption of water reuse across the country.

The bipartisan bills were introduced by Sens. John Barrasso, Tom Carper, Shelley Moore Capito, Ben Cardin, Kevin Cramer and Tammy Duckworth. 

“Our committee has taken a significant step to improve our dams, ports, flood-prevention infrastructure, reservoirs and drinking water systems,” says Barrasso. “America’s Water Infrastructure Act and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act will create jobs and grow our economy.”

AWIA 2020 provides roughly $17 billion in new federal authorizations to invest in our infrastructure for projects across the country. It cuts red tape by setting a two-year goal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) to complete its feasibility studies for potential projects, consistent with the standard set by President Donald Trump. 

The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 reauthorizes Safe Drinking Water Act programs that support drinking water infrastructure and provide resources and technical assistance to communities facing critical drinking water needs.

The legislation includes language to reauthorize the Pilot Program for Alternative Water Source Grants, through which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would provide competitive grants to communities to support water recycling projects.

In addition, the legislation directs EPA to establish an Interagency Working Group on Water Reuse to coordinate federal activities across the federal government. The purpose of the new working group is to break down silos, leverage resources and expertise across agencies, and align activities to better support reuse. The WateReuse Association helped advocate for these provisions in the draft bill and in the managers’ amendment during committee markup. 

“The WateReuse Association applauds Chairman John Barrasso, Ranking Member Tom Carper, and the members of the committee for developing strong, bipartisan legislation to improve our nation’s water recycling infrastructure,” says Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association. “The bills passed by the committee today provide tools and investments to help communities address complex and evolving challenges through the adoption of water reuse.”

In addition to reauthorizing the Alternative Water Source Grants Program and creating a new Interagency Working Group on Water Reuse, the two bills create and reauthorize numerous programs that together will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in water recycling across the country. These include a reauthorization and expansion of the Drinking Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Program and the creation of a companion program for wastewater systems; reauthorization of and increased funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program; reauthorization of the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Grant Program; and reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program.

NUCA statement

The National Utility Contractors Association released a statement saying the funding levels for water infrastructure should be reevaluated.

“While the AWIA 2020 and the DWIA 2020 are comprehensive, the funding levels included for certain programs should be reevaluated. We applaud Senators Barrasso and Carper for taking a wide-ranging approach to addressing America’s water infrastructure needs.

“While the AWIA includes marginal increases to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), they are not enough to take meaningful steps towards bridging the gap between what is needed and what is currently invested. In fact, the vast majority of the bill consists of water resources projects related to ports and shoreline protection, usually overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Moreover, the DWIA includes no significant increases in funding for the Drinking Water SRF other than $300 million in grants to assist in the remediation of drinking water contamination.”


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