APWA Washington Report
May 10, 2021

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Infrastructure Update

  • This week, President Biden has multiple meetings set with both Democrat and Republican Congressional leaders to continue discussion related to what an infrastructure package(s) may include;
  • On March 31, the President introduced his $2.25 trillion 'American Jobs Plan'
  • On April 22, several Senate Republicans introduced a $568 billion, over 5 years, framework counter proposal to the President’s plan;
  • While bipartisan support is very strong for ‘infrastructure’ investment, and for completing the next surface transportation reauthorization before the current law expires September 30, 2021, what specifically will be included and defined as infrastructure needs to be worked out, as well as how to pay for these investments;
  • Additionally, whether there will be one all-encompassing infrastructure package, or multiple packages with different focus, is yet to be officially agreed upon, though multiple packages seem more likely;
  • The lead authorizing committees in the House (Transportation & Infrastructure) and the Senate (Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee) are working on infrastructure legislation with the intention of marking-up around Memorial Day, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said the House will pass an infrastructure bill by July 4;
  • In recent weeks, APWA’s Board of Directors and members of the Government Affairs Committee have been holding virtual meetings with Congressional members and staff about APWA’s policy priorities for infrastructure;
  • APWA calls for specific policy solutions and strong federal commitment in the Association’s ‘Public Policy Priorities’ for the 117th Congress;
  • Please contact APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

U.S. Senate Passes Key Water Infrastructure Legislation

  • April 29, the U.S. Senate passed S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, in a bipartisan 89-2 vote;
  • This critical water infrastructure legislation, which APWA supports, would authorize $35 billion over 5 years in funding and financing of water and wastewater infrastructure projects;
  • Key provisions of the bill include:
    • Reauthorization of Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) at increased funding levels
    • Reauthorization of Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans
    • Reauthorization of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water workforce development program with increased funding, and establishment of public works agencies as an eligible recipient of this funding
    • Reauthorization of Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants program
    • Authorization of a new lead mapping pilot program
    • Authorization of a new Clean Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability grant program to increase water utility resilience against disasters and cybersecurity threats
  • Two bipartisan amendments to the bill were also passed by voice vote prior to final passage:
    • Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) amendment to modify EPA’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program to allow states to assist households impact by unregulated contaminants including PFAS
    • Senator John Kennedy’s (R-LA) amendment to direct the EPA to commission a study on boil water advisories
  • Passage of this important bill was aided by the outreach of APWA members, who responded to APWA’s action alert and sent over 300 messages to their senators urging passage;
  • The bill will now serve as a basis for bicameral negotiations with the House of Representatives on a broad water infrastructure package.

U.S. EPA Announces $6.5 Billion in WIFIA and SWIFIA Water Infrastructure Financing

  • April 27, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $6.5 billion in funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and state infrastructure financing WIFIA (SWIFIA) program;
  • WIFIA/SWIFIA are federal credit programs administered by EPA for eligible projects including water and wastewater infrastructure, drought prevention/mitigation, and water reuse;
  • $5.5 billion of this funding will go to WIFIA loans that directly finance eligible projects, prioritizing five areas:
    • Supporting economically stressed communities
    • Protecting water infrastructure against the impacts of climate change
    • Reducing exposure to lead and addressing emerging contaminants
    • Updating aging infrastructure
    • Implementing new or innovative approaches including cybersecurity and green infrastructure
  • $1 billion in funding will go towards the SWIFIA program in which loans are provided to state water infrastructure programs that are then able to finance water infrastructure projects at the local level;
  • Letters of interest from WIFIA applicants are due July 23, 2021, and letters of interest from SWIFIA applicants are due June 25, 2021;
  • Details on how to apply can be found in the WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and the SWIFIA NOFA.

President Biden Releases “America The Beautiful” Proposal

  • Last week, President Biden released an environmental conservation proposal titled “America The Beautiful”;
  • If enacted, the voluntary nationwide proposal aims for a conservation goal to conserve 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030;
  • For additional information, including to read a copy of the proposal –  click here.

FEMA Releases 2020 National Preparedness Report

  • Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the 2020 National Preparedness Report (NPR);
  • The NPR was created to provide an overview of the risks emanating from disasters that are faced by communities;
  • It also delves into how vulnerabilities, or lack of preparation in those communities may impact risk;
  • The NPR also provides recommendations on managing potential damage;
  • The 2020 NPR includes data available through December 31, 2019;
  • For additional information on the 2020 NPR – click here.

U.S. EPA Establishes New Council to Address PFAS Contamination

  • April 27, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan formally called for the establishment of a new “EPA Council on PFAS”;
  • This council’s membership will be drawn from senior EPA officials from across the agency;
  • Its mission will be to strategize on how EPA’s existing authorities can best be used to mitigate and reduce contamination of drinking water by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS);
  • These chemicals have emerged as a widespread contaminant and are a potential threat to public health;
  • Specifically, Administrator Regan outlined these goals for the Council:
    • Develop "PFAS 2021-2025 -Safeguarding America's Waters, Air and Land," a multi-year strategy to address PFAS pollution
    • Continue interagency coordination on PFAS issues
    • Expand engagement with federal, state, and tribal partners
  • For more information, please see Administrator Regan’s official memorandum and EPA’s announcement.

U.S EPA Releases Tools to Assist with Nutrient Reduction in Water

  • EPA recently released tools to assist states, territories, and tribes combatting excessive nutrients in water;
  • These nutrients can cause harmful algal blooms and other adverse effects;
  • Among the tools and information released is Nutrient Scientific Technical Exchange Partnership & Support (N-STEPS) Online, a web-based resource providing technical assistance on developing numeric nutrient criteria;
  • EPA also released a new primer with information on user perception surveys;
  • More information on the tools can be found on EPA’s website.

DOL Reestablishes Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship

  • The Department of Labor (DOL) announced its intent to reestablish the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships (ACA);
  • The ACA will be comprised of representatives from unions, employers, and the public to provide DOL with advice and insight on how to best implement Registered Apprenticeships;
  • Nominations for the ACA are due by June 3;
  • More information can be found in DOL’s official notice of reestablishment.