This editorial letter originally appeared in WWD September 2021 issue as "Infrastructure Bill Nears Approval"
On August 10, 2021, the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which still must pass the U.S. House of Representatives before reaching President Joe Biden’s desk, includes $500 billion in new infrastructure spending. Of that $500 billion, $55 billion is dedicated to water and wastewater infrastructure.
It’s a small piece of a very large pie, but it’s still a sizable investment for the industry should it be make its way through the rest of the legislative process and be signed into law. A decent chunk of the water and wastewater spending is dedicated specifically to lead services line replacement, which falls in line with the messaging of President Joe Biden since he announced the American Jobs Plan in March. His call for 100% lead service line replacement is ambitious, and $15 billion of that $55 billion in this latest bill would be used to address that issue head on.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes several other provisions of note, and for the sake of legibility, I’ve listed the ones we deem most crucial below:
- $11.7 billion for Clean Water State Revolving Fund over five years;
- $11.7 billion for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund over five years;
- $1 billion for CWSRF for emerging contaminants;
- $4 billion for DWSRF for PFAS in drinking water;
- $250 million for WIFIA over five years;
- $126 for Alternative Source Water Pilot Program over five years; and
- $25 million for the Water Infrastructure and Workforce Investment Grant Program.
In addition to the WIFIA funding, the WIFIA ratings agency requirement would be reduced from two letters to one with this bill. The bill also would establish the Small Publicly Owned Treatment Works Efficiency Grant Program with funding to be determined, and it would provide $1.4 billion over five years for the EPA Sewer Overflow & Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program. Call your representatives to let them know your thoughts on this infrastructure bill. As always, our voices are critical for influencing measures such as these.
For more details on the funding levels included in this bill and to follow its journey through the House, be sure to visit our website www.wwdmag.com for daily news updates, including daily headlines regarding the drought and water scarcity concerns in the Western U.S. While you’re at it, sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive the latest headlines in your inbox every Monday at this link: www.wwdmag.com/manage-subscription.