New disaster bill includes funds for drinking water resilience

Last week, congressional leaders agreed on a $19.1 billion emergency supplemental spending bill that would aid communities affected by recent wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. The measure is expected to pass once lawmakers return from this week’s Memorial Day recess.

The bill includes an additional $296 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWRSF) dollars that will be made available to communities in EPA regions 4, 9, and 10 that were impacted in 2018 by Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, Typhoon Yutu, or any wildfires or earthquakes. EPA will distribute the DWSRF funds to eligible states with drinking water systems affected by the natural disasters, and between 20 and 30 percent of the funding must be issued as grants or negative interest loans. SRF funds awarded under the supplemental bill must be used on projects intended to “reduce flood or fire damage risk and vulnerability or to enhance resiliency to rapid hydrologic change or natural disaster.” In addition to the DWSRF funds, the bill includes $53.3 million in Clean Water SRF dollars to be made available to wastewater systems under the same conditions, for the same purpose.

Other parts of the measure include $1 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare for flood, hurricane and other natural disasters, and support emergency operations, repairs, and other activities carried out in response to natural disasters.

Lawmakers and the White House came to agreement on the bill just before Congress departed for a week-long recess, but a single lawmaker in the House blocked its expedited passage. This means the full House will vote on the measure upon members’ return to Washington in June. Once Congress approves it, President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Source: AMWA

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