Infrastructure Bill Passage Will Boost Water/Wastewater Sector

Infrastructure Bill Passage Will Boost Water/Wastewater Sector

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The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act after months of negotiation, and President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law to cement a major funding boost for the water/wastewater sector.

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies reports that the bill carries $48.4 billion over five years for drinking water and wastewater spending at EPA, including:

• $11.713 billion each to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, with states required to award precisely 49% of their share of these funds as grants or full principal forgiveness loans;

• $15 billion through the DWSRF to support lead service line replacement projects, again with 49% of funds required to be distributed by states as grants or principal forgiveness loans; and

• A total of $10 billion to help drinking water and wastewater systems address emerging contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including $4 billion through the DWSRF as grants that would be available to drinking water systems of all sizes.

The bill also authorizes several new EPA programs, such as a new climate resilience program for drinking water systems that has been long championed by AMWA and a low-income water ratepayer assistance pilot program. However, those programs would not receive funding through the bill and would instead have to wait for dollars through subsequent appropriations legislation.

Water/wastewater industry association responses

Water Environment Federation President Jamie Eichenberger says WEF says the final passage by Congress of this infrastructure package will give the water sector the largest boost in federal funding for local water infrastructure it has received in decades.

“This massive funding increase is the result of years of hard work by WEF and our members to make Congress understand the desperate need for water infrastructure investments in communities nationwide,” says Eichenberger.

A statement from the American Water Works Association said the group is grateful to the federal government for making water infrastructure a priority. “By reauthorizing the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and doubling funding for the drinking water State Revolving Fund, the federal government is helping states and local water providers to spur on critical water projects. In addition, the $15 billion designated for lead service line replacement is a welcome down payment on what could be a $60 billion challenge.”

National Association of Clean Water Agencies CEO Adam Krantz applauded the Biden Administration and leaders in both the House and Senate for working across party lines to pass the bill. “Just as roads, bridges,and broadband contribute to vibrant communities, the public clean water sector is vital to America’s public health and the environment. This legislation takes strides to help provide all households with clean and safe water services at an affordable cost. NACWA’s members look forward to working with stakeholders at all levels of government to implement this legislation.”

Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association also offered a statement in support of the bill. “Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply — essential for livable communities with healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life,” says Sinicropi. “With enactment of the bi-partisan infrastructure investment package, Congress and the Administration recognize the essential role water recycling is playing in helping communities confront the impacts of climate change and build more resilient and sustainable water resources for their communities. This is an important day for water in the U.S.”

US Water Alliance CEO Mami Hara says the group is thrilled to see this historic investment into the nation’s water infrastructure. “We look forward to deploying our network to achieve the best implementation for these funds. We also look forward to the forthcoming reconciliation legislation, which also potentially includes additional important water and climate provisions. Investing in infrastructure — specifically water — has vast support from the overwhelming majority of Americans. Water is too essential to wait.” 


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