Water sector groups urge action on new water workforce program

EPA should recognize all drinking water and wastewater systems as eligible recipients of funding under the agency’s new Water Workforce Infrastructure Development Grant Program, four water sector associations wrote in a letter earlier in January.

The letter, which was signed by AWWA, NACWA, and WEF, in addition to AWMA, came soon after last year’s major Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act made several reforms to the grant program that was originally created by Congress in 2018. The program is intended to aid in the development and utilization of activities that promote a diverse water sector workforce, such as on-the-job training, test preparation for skilled trade apprenticeships, and advanced training for water sector jobs. Last year’s infrastructure legislation modified the program to make municipal public works departments, including water and sewer utilities, eligible to receive the workforce grants.

The associations applauded the workforce program in the letter and asked that water and wastewater systems be given “strong consideration” as potential grant recipients. While the infrastructure legislation extended grant eligibility to municipal public works agencies that operate or maintain water or wastewater systems, the eligibility status of independent or special district water systems is less clear. The letter, therefore, asked EPA to allow any community water system or publicly owned treatment works to compete for a share of workforce grant funding.

EPA announced the first round of grant recipients under the water workforce program last fall, and future grant awards are expected should Congress appropriate additional funds for the program.

Source: Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies

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