Infrastructure Bill Passes House; Water & Wastewater Funding Breakdown

Nov. 8, 2021
Of the $550 billion in new spending, $55 billion is allocated to drinking water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure funding.

Read more about this bill:

News Update

Editor's Note: This article has been updated on November 15.

On November 15, Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act into law. Biden thanked several senators who were key to the bill's passage, reported CNN.

The other bill drawing attention, known as the Build Back Better Act, still faces an uncertain future in Congress.

"They'll see the effects of the bill, this bill, probably starting within the next two to three months," Biden told reporters following the bill's passage, reported CNN, adding that it is "going to have a profound impact over time."

Industry association's have begun to respond to this historic news.

"For too long, the needs of drinking water systems have been an afterthought in infrastructure funding discussions," said AMWA CEO Diane VanDe Hei after the passage of the bill. "The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reverses this trend by investing billions of dollars in priorities like removing lead service lines, addressing emerging contaminants, and making other critical investments in the nation's water systems. AMWA thanks Congress and the Biden Administration for their hard work in making this legislation a reality."

Original Article Follows

Editor's Note: This article has been updated with a quote from EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

On Nov. 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a nearly $1.2 trillion bill that includes $550 billion in new spending. 

Of that $550 billion in new spending, $55 billion is allocated to drinking water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure funding. This will expand access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers across the country.

In a statement to the press, U.S. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said this bill has been a long time coming and will make a significant impact on the American people.

“On his first day in office, President Biden committed to acting on climate change, cleaning up pollution, and creating good-paying jobs in the process. He is delivering on those promises with bipartisan action,” Regan said. “For far too long, communities across the country have struggled with environmental challenges. I have traveled the country visiting overburdened communities to better understand their plight. I’ve talked to moms whose children have been exposed to lead in drinking water, and advocates that have been fighting to eliminate long-standing pollution in their backyards. Finally, these communities have been heard. Now we deliver billions of dollars of new investments into programs and services that will make people’s lives better.”

The legislation will also specifically invest in water infrastructure by eliminating lead service pipes, especially in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities, which are impacted the most. The bill includes $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The passage of the IIJA in The U.S. House was made possible by an agreement reached on a $1.75 trillion Budget Reconciliation package — referred to as the Build Back Better Act — which had been in a lengthy stalemate between progressive and moderate Democrats. The Build Back Better package will also boost funding for several water infrastructure grant programs in the IIJA.

The IIJA is on track to head to President Joe Biden for his signature into law. Although most of the funding in the package is guaranteed, some funding is connected to the Budget Reconciliation package recently agreed to between the House and Senate, which still needs completion.

Below is a breakdown of the funding rules and requirements and a breakout of the spending in drinking water, wastewater, storm water as well as programs that cross verticals. These bullets included information from press releases from Water Environment Federation, National Ground Water Association, the Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, and others.

Funding Rules & Requirements

  • State SRF programs will be required to provide up to 30% and no less than 10% of funding as grants and principal forgiveness loans. 50% is set-aside for rural and financially distressed communities;
  • State SRF programs will not be required to provide the 20% match to receive the federal SRF funding;
  • The Rural and Low-Income Water Assistance Pilot Program will establish a new U.S. EPA program to provide 40 grants per year to utilities to assist low-income ratepayers;
  • Buy America requirements will expand in SRF and WIFIA to include “manufactured goods,” in addition to the existing iron and steel Buy America requirements.

Drinking Water

  • $11.7 billion over five years for both the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund;
  • The Alternative Source Water Pilot Program will get $125 million over the next five years;
  • $4 billion will be provided in grants through the Drinking Water SRF to address PFAS in drinking water; and
  • $15 billion in loans and grants will be provided through the Drinking Water SRF for lead service line replacement.

Clean Water

  • $11.7 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF);
  • The Wastewater Energy Efficiency Grant Pilot Program will receive $100 million over the next five years;
  • $1 billion through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to address emerging contaminants;
  • Decentralized Households grants will get $150 million over five years to help low-income homeowners construct or repair failing septic systems.

Storm Water

  • The U.S. EPA Sewer Overflow & Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program will receive $1.4 billion over the next five years;
  • The Stormwater Infrastructure Technology Program will get $25 million to create five Stormwater Centers of Excellence;
  • $50 million for storm water infrastructure planning/development and implementation grants; And
  • EPA will get $5 million per year to complete the Clean Watershed Needs Survey biennially.

Programs Across Sectors

  • The Water Infrastructure and Workforce Investment Grant Program will get $25 million over the next five years;
  • The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) will receive $250 million over the next five years and facilities applying will be required to have only one ratings agency opinion letter;
  • The Small Publicly Owned Treatment Works Efficiency Grant Program will be established (funding levels still to be determined);
  • The connection of homes and communities to Publicly Owned Treatment Works Grant Program will get $200 million over the next five years;
  • The Clean Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Grant Program will get $125 million over the next five years; and 
  • $5 billion through the EPA’s Assistance to Small and Disadvantaged Communities Program and State Response to Contaminants program to address emerging contaminants.

Additional Provisions

The following provisions were noted by the National Ground Water Association for their importance to the industry, as well.

  • Study on Stormwater Best Management Practices directs the DOT and the U.S. Environmental Agency to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to study pollutant loads from highways and pedestrian facilities and recommend potential stormwater management and total maximum daily load compliance strategies.
  • Water Storage, Groundwater Storage and Conveyance Projects directs the Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct feasibility studies for water storage, groundwater storage, and conveyance projects, and specifies a project approval process.
  • Small Water Storage and Groundwater Storage Projects provides through the DOI a competitive grant program for Reclamation states, plus Alaska and Hawaii, for small water storage and groundwater storage projects.
  • Competitive Grant Program for Large-Scale Water Recycling and Reuse Program provides through the DOI a competitive grant program for Reclamation states for large-scale water recycling and reuse projects based on feasibility studies and 25 percent federal cost share.
  • Federal Assistance for Groundwater Recharge, Aquifer Storage, and Water Source Substitution Projects directs the DOI to offer technical and financial assistance and enter into agreements for groundwater recharge projects, aquifer storage and recovery projects, or water source substitution projects on a cost sharing basis.
  • Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities provides grants to states to assist in the purchase of point-of-entry or point-of-use filters and filtration systems, replacement of lead service lines and other sources of lead in drinking water, and the costs associated with connecting a household to a public water.
  • Reducing Lead in Drinking Water provides through the EPA financial assistance to public water systems and nonprofit organizations to replace lead service lines with priority for disadvantaged communities, low-income homeowners, and property owners of housing for low-income renters.
  • Highway Funding and Truck Driver Pilot Program- provides over $345 billion for highway funding and freight infrastructure and will establish a three-year, national pilot program based on the DRIVE-Safe Act, authorizing up to 3,000 18-20-year-old truck drivers to undergo advanced safety training to participate in interstate commerce.

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