On Wednesday, March 24, the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee passed a bi-partisan package of wastewater, stormwater, drinking water, and water reuse infrastructure funding.
The bill, known as the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, seeks to reauthorize many core federal water infrastructure funding programs. The bill also includes several new programs that would help communities address pressing water infrastructure challenges. WEF provided a letter of support for bill.
The Senate bill both reauthorizes and amends many existing programs and creates new ones. WEF’s members, Members Associations, and WEF have been advocating for many of these programs over the last several years.
According to the bill, the reauthorizations and changes include (but are not limited to) the following:
- The Clean Water State Revolving Fund would get $14.65 billion over the next 5 years and allow a greater percentage of loans to be forgiven or other favorable loan terms.
- The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act would get $250 million over the next 5 years and require only one ratings agency opinion letter, instead of two.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sewer Overflow & Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program would get $1.4 billion over the next 5 years.
- The Alternative Source Water Pilot Program would get $125 million over the next 5 years.
The draft bill also lays out details for seven new programs.
- The Wastewater Energy Efficiency Grant Pilot Program would get $100 million over the next 5 years.
- The Clean Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Grant Program would get $125 million over the next 5 years.
- The Small Publicly Owned Treatment Works Efficiency Grant Program would be established with funding levels to be determined.
- The Connection to Publicly Owned Treatment Works Grant Program would get $200 million over the next 5 years.
- The Water Infrastructure and Workforce Investment Grant Program would get $25 million over the next five years.
- The Stormwater Infrastructure Technology Program would get $25 million to create five Stormwater Centers of Excellence and $50 million for stormwater infrastructure planning and implementation grants.
- The Rural and Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance Pilot Program would be established.
Next, the bill is expected to be considered on the Senate floor in April.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, several water infrastructure packages also have been introduced over the last several weeks. These bills also seek to provide significant boosts in funding for wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure programs. The House bills also are expected to pass through committees and reach the House floor in April.
After the bills pass both House and Senate, they then will be negotiated with the goal of a final agreement by early summer. Once passed by Congress, the water infrastructure package will be eligible to be included in the expected major infrastructure package later this year.
See the Comments
WEF issued a letter of support and provided comments to Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the committee, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R–W.V.), Ranking Member of the committee.
WEF’s Water Advocates grassroots program currently has a call-to-action for members to write their Members of Congress in support of robust water infrastructure funding to be included in the upcoming major infrastructure package.