Clean Water SRF would receive largest-ever increase under new bill

Clean water organizations and advocates in the water sector are praising Congress for its bipartisan introduction of the Water Quality Protection and Jobs Creation Act of 2019.

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is joining other major clean water organizations in supporting the introduction of the bill. NACWA has long advocated for key funding reauthorizations and increases included in the legislation.

The bill would provide a major increase in authorized funding for federal clean water programs — including the largest increase ever for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund — to help ensure that communities across the country have the resources they need to invest in improving aging infrastructure, addressing emerging water quality challenges, and delivering reliable clean water services at rates that are affordable for all.

The legislation, introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore., 4th Dist.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif., 32nd Dist.), Don Young (R-Ark., At-large Dist.) and John Katko (R-N.Y., 24th Dist.), demonstrates a strong bipartisan sentiment to collaborate on infrastructure issues, and specifically on clean water, this Congress. The legislation would authorize spending up to $4 billion on the CWSRF per year through 2024. Other parts of the bill would authorize:

  • $900 million for grants to municipalities to capture, treat or reuse combined and sanitary sewer overflows or stormwater;
  • $1.5 billion over five years for states to implement Clean Water Act water pollution control programs;
  • $600 million over five years for pilot programs aimed at addressing wet weather discharges, promoting stormwater best management practices, undertaking integrated water resource management, and increasing the resiliency of treatment works to natural or man-made disasters; and
  • $375 million in grants over five years for alternative water source projects, including projects that reuse wastewater or stormwater to augment existing sources of water.

“NACWA applauds this significant bipartisan effort to reaffirm the federal commitment to investing in clean water and addressing our nation’s infrastructure challenges,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “This legislation authorizes essential federal investment for critical clean water infrastructure programs, ensuring that public water service providers—and the communities they serve—will have the tools they need to maintain and improve their systems protecting public health, the environment, and a strong economy.”

The bill reauthorizes several core programs that provide financing and technical assistance to local communities. These programs help local communities better manage the substantial costs associated with maintaining aging infrastructure and complying with the federal Clean Water Act. The federal government’s share of total national investment in water and wastewater is presently below 5 percent, meaning local ratepayers overwhelmingly bear the cost of construction, operations, maintenance, upgrades and compliance.

“As communities in every region are asked to do more with less, Congress’s move to increase the federal government’s investment-share in the delivery of clean water is a positive development,” Krantz continued.

NACWA said it would like to thank the bill’s sponsors and has issued a letter of support—co-signed by major organizations within the clean water sector—in advance of a public hearing on the legislation in the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment on March 7. NACWA said it looks forward to working with Congress to advance this critical legislation.

According to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), H.R. 1497 could be added to a larger infrastructure bill that Congress could develop later this year. The legislation does not affect the Drinking Water SRF or WIFIA, each of which Congress reauthorized last year, per AMWA.

Sources: AMWA, NACWA

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