Big win for drinking water resilience in budget request

The Trump administration’s FY20 budget request would provide first-ever appropriations for a number of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs that Congress authorized last year through America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA). Altogether, the request would seek a total of $92.8 million to fund new AWIA initiatives.

Among the AWIA winners in the president’s budget is EPA’s new Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability program. Authorized by AWIA and based on legislation drafted with the assistance of AMWA, the program would offer grants to help small or disadvantaged communities prepare their drinking water infrastructure for threats like floods, hurricanes, and hydrologic changes. Trump’s budget would provide the program with a small but meaningful appropriation of $2 million next year.

Other AWIA-authorized initiatives in line for funding through the president’s budget include $5 million for school drinking water fountain lead testing and replacement, $10 million for lead-screening water in schools and child care centers, and $300,000 for a grant program to promote water workforce development.

However, the budget would zero-out funding for a three-year-old grant program designed to help communities and low-income households replace lead service lines. AMWA supported creation of that program in the WRDA legislation approved by Congress in 2016, and lawmakers provided it with $15 million in funds in FY19. Trump’s budget envisions using the SRFs, WIFIA, and other newly-authorized AWIA programs to continue lead reduction efforts, though none of those programs are dedicated to the removal of lead service lines.

Congress will ultimately decide where to direct funding for various EPA programs, but the new AWIA programs highlighted in the president’s budget are likely to benefit from having the administration’s support.

Source: AMWA

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