Water system resiliency bill introduced in House

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation in April that would help local drinking water and wastewater utilities adapt their infrastructure to prepare for the impacts of changing hydrological conditions.

H.R. 5596, the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act, would establish a new program under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dedicated to offering competitive grant assistance to communities to offset the cost of water and wastewater projects undertaken to improve the sustainability of their infrastructure to changing hydrologic conditions and extreme weather, or to study the potential impacts of these factors on their water system. Projects ranging from water efficiency, new water supply development, infrastructure relocation and green infrastructure initiatives, would be eligible for assistance.

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) was instrumental in pushing for the introduction of the bill and worked closely with its sponsor, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), to prepare the bill’s proposal in the 115th Congress.  Notably, Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) has cosponsored H.R. 5596, the first time a Republican member of Congress has formally endorsed this utility adaptation legislation.

H.R. 5596 closely mirrors earlier versions of the bill but incorporates several updates. These include expanding eligibility to projects sponsored by interstate and intermunicipal organizations, allowing funds to be used on projects that respond to rising sea levels, increasing the maximum federal project cost share to 75 percent, and ensuring that a private water system that receives funding only uses it on a project that has the support of the affected local government.

AMWA has promoted various iterations of the water utility resilience legislation on Capitol Hill for a number of years. AMWA and 10 other water and infrastructure sector organizations wrote to Reps. Carbajal and Reed in support of the bill last week, saying it will allow communities to “build resiliency into their infrastructure today, while helping ensure uninterrupted water and wastewater service for decades to come.”

H.R. 5596 is unlikely to advance through Congress this year as an individual bill, but the water sector has urged lawmakers to attach it to larger future climate adaptation or water resources legislation.


Source: AMWA

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