Water sector urges Congress to prioritize water in coming year

Avon Lake Regional Water

In January, water sector organizations including the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) joined nearly 100 other national and regional organizations in sending a letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership. The groups urged lawmakers to incorporate drinking and clean water funding into any infrastructure package considered in the 116th Congress, which began this month.

Congressional leadership from both parties has expressed interest in working on an infrastructure package this year. NACWA and other water sector organizations have been working to emphasize that any comprehensive infrastructure package should incorporate water alongside roads, bridges and other sectors. The letter urges that funding and financing for wastewater, stormwater, drinking water and water reuse be considered.

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Prospects for a comprehensive infrastructure package in Congress this year remain largely uncertain. AMWA, which was part of a group of 91 national and regional water and environmental organizations that wrote to congressional leaders, cited EPA estimates of future drinking water and wastewater investment needs and pointed to the quantifiable economic benefits of water infrastructure spending. It told congressional leaders that “an infrastructure package represents an excellent opportunity to provide necessary resources to meet long-term economic, public health and environmental goals.”

In 2018, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which included a host of AMWA-supported provisions, including reauthorizations of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs, along with authorizations for several new water infrastructure programs targeted at specific purposes. Since passage of that law, AMWA has told congressional staff that a broad new infrastructure bill could serve as a means to deliver additional funding to each of these programs.

However, while both members of Congress and the Trump administration expressed interest following the November elections in the idea of producing a comprehensive infrastructure bill this year, enthusiasm has cooled as the partial government shutdown dragged on longer than expected.


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