House advances bill with increased funding for clean water

U.S. Capitol Building

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee last week marked up and advanced H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021.

This legislation follows the Senate’s passage in May of its clean water reauthorization package, S. 914, the Senate Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA). According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Committee’s action marks another step towards increasing clean water investment, setting the stage for increased funding year over year that better reflects the critical needs for clean water investment.

Most notably, H.R. 1915 would provide the first ever reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) at an historic $40 billion over five years. The bill also includes a reauthorization of the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants at $2 billion over five years and support for water technology investments by utilities, among other beneficial clean water provisions, and emphasizes the role that clean water investment plays in building resilient communities.

“NACWA applauds the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for advancing this historic reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, among other provisions in this legislation,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “Taken together with the Senate’s Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA), it is clear that both chambers of Congress are working hard to deliver robust funding and support to America’s public clean water sector in advance of President Biden’s comprehensive infrastructure package.

“NACWA thanks the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, especially Committee Chair Peter DeFazio and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Grace Napolitano, for their recognition of the public clean water sector’s vital role in protecting public health and the environment and building strong communities and economies.”

Water Reuse

The legislation also contains top policy priorities for the WateReuse Association. First, it reauthorizes the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, which authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant up to $200 million per year to state, interstate, and intrastate water resource development agencies to engineer, design, construct, and test water reuse projects throughout the country.

Second, it directs the EPA to establish a federal interagency working group on water reuse, which will break down silos, leverage resources throughout the federal family, and facilitate stakeholder engagement. In addition, the substitute amendment expands eligibility for the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program to include certain projects that have previously received funding through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program.

“The WateReuse Association applauds Representatives DeFazio, Napolitano, and Fitzpatrick for developing strong, bipartisan legislation to improve our nation’s water recycling infrastructure,” said Patricia Sinicropi, Executive Director of the WateReuse Association. “The Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 provides tools and investments to help communities address complex and evolving challenges through the adoption of water reuse.”

According to the WateReuse Association, communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply—essential for livable communities with healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life. Some important examples of how communities and businesses are increasingly turning to water reuse to stabilize their water management systems and ensure stronger and more resilient supplies include:

  • By 2035, the City of Los Angeles expects to recycle 100 percent of its water supplies and reduce its reliance on costly imported water from the Colorado River. 
  • Truckee Meadows Water Authority in Reno is planning 13-mile pipeline to provide 1.3 billion gallons of recycled water annually to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, home to Tesla, Switch and Google, and ensure 20,000 jobs remain in Nevada.   
  • The Hampton Roads region of Virginia, home to the largest concentration of military and naval installations, plans to recycle 100 percent of its effluent through an aquifer recovery system to prevent rising sea levels from threatening inundating the entire region.

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