NACWA: Clean water funding excluded from final WRDA package

Friday evening, Congress released its long-awaited conferenced Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). Over the past several cycles, this bill has become the vehicle of choice for authorizing essential funding for clean and drinking water infrastructure. While both the House and Senate Committee versions of WRDA 2020 included clean water investment, the conferenced language released is limited to the Army Corps of Engineers titles.

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has released a statement expressing disappointment that Congress was  unable to include funding that apparently had bipartisan support.

“This bill was a chance for Congress to provide much needed new funding for the public clean water sector. Unfortunately, support for public clean water utilities was left out entirely,” the statement read.

The provisions that the public water sector requested but were not delivered in the final WRDA bill are below.

  • Strong Federal Investment in Public Clean Water Infrastructure, including long-overdue reauthorization and increased funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
    • The financial impact to the public clean water sector as a result of the pandemic is estimated to be in excess of $16.8 billion.
  • Reauthorization of the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants of $250 million per FY.
  • Reauthorization and refinement to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act in Excess of $50 million per FY.
  • Increased authorized funding for EPA’s Water Infrastructure Workforce Investment program.
  • Authorization of Clean Water Infrastructure Resilience Grant Funding to help utilities adapt to climate change.
  • The creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency – Water (ARPA-H20) to encourage increased technological innovation in the public clean water sector.
  • Clear congressional authorization for supplemental environmental projects in Clean Water Act settlement agreements.
  • Authorization of a wastewater infrastructure discretionary grant program for the first time.
  • Robust funding for Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Grants.

NACWA’s general counsel and chief advocacy officer Nathan Gardner-Andrews issued the following comments: 

“It is disappointing Congress was unable to provide needed new funding for public clean water utilities in the final WRDA package, especially given the amazing work these utilities have done on the front lines of public health protection since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While NACWA is appreciative of the additional funding the House and Senate supported in bipartisan fashion this Congress in their individual WRDA bills, the failure to find agreement in the final package is a disservice to public clean water utilities all across the nation.

“Public clean water utilities have put their lives and revenue on the line to protect public health and the environment during the crisis. Congress’s inability to ultimately authorize clean water investment that already had bipartisan support will present serious challenges as the public clean water sector struggles to go it alone without new support from the federal government. NACWA looks forward to working with Congress to address this issue immediately when it reconvenes in January.”

Source: National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).

NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. Its unique and growing network strengthens the advocacy voice for the public clean water sector and helps advance policies to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all.

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