Senate Committee Approves Water Infrastructure Legislation

In a markup today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved legislation to provide federal resources for the nation's water infrastructure.
The Committee approved a substitute amendment for the proposed America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2020by voice vote. That bill deals with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and infrastructure regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Committee also approved by a vote of 21-0 a substitute amendment for the proposed Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. That bill deals with infrastructure and programs regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
Both bills will move to a vote in the full Senate, though it is unclear when that vote will occur. Additionally, the House is still developing its legislation related to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizations. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has already unanimously passed a bill related to CWA activities.
The CWA bill would authorize roughly $17 billion to increase water storage, improve flood protection, deepen U.S. ports, and repair aging wastewater and irrigation systems. Specific provisions included in the legislation would:

  • Reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) for FY 2021 at $2 billion, FY 2022 at $2.5 billion, and FY 2023 at $3 billion;
  • Reauthorize the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program through FY 2024 at $50 million per year;
  • Reauthorize the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant program for FY 2021-22 at $250 million;
  • Reauthorize the Water Workforce grant program from America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 through FY 2024 at $2 million per year;
  • Create a grant program for low and moderate income individuals with decentralized wastewater systems at $15 million per year for FY 2021 and FY 2022;
  • Create a grant program to cover costs incurred from connecting households to municipal and private wastewater systems at $20 million per year for FY 2021 and FY 2022; and
  • Create a discretionary grant program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Publicly-Owned Treatment Works (POTW) at $50 million through FY 2024.
 The SDWA bill proposes roughly $2.5 billion in federal authorizations for water projects, including those under the Safe Drinking Water Act, giving local communities additional technical assistance to improve water quality, and:

  • Language requiring states to use 20% of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) funding for grants, negative interest loans, and debt acquisition;
  • Establish an Operational Sustainability program under SDWA for public water systems, funded at $10 million through FY 2024; and
  • Establish a lead mapping pilot program to help communities find and map lead service lines in their drinking water systems, funded at $10 million to be used until expended.
APWA issued a letter of support for both pieces of legislation earlier this week.