Over the past few months, Congress has seen a flurry of activity surrounding our nation’s water infrastructure. A welcome change, no doubt, but we must continue to keep up the pressure. Introducing legislation is a meaningful step, but Congressional action and passage of meaningful legislation to improve America’s aging water infrastructure is paramount.
As we have said here previously, investing in water infrastructure creates jobs, repairs a greatly deficient public service, and stimulates the economy, in addition to the substantial public health and well-being benefits.
On February 25, 2016, Senator Ben Cardin introduced S. 2583, the Firm, Unwavering National Dedication (FUND) to Water Act. This legislation more than triples the authorization levels for EPA’s State revolving Fund programs. The bill would increase the Clean Water SRF to $5.18 billion in fiscal year 2017 and raise authorization levels incrementally until $9.06 billion in fiscal year 2021. For the Drinking Water SRF, authorization levels would range from $3.13 billion in 2017 to $5.5 billion in 2021.
On April 20, 2016, 26 Senators introduced S. 2821, the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes (TRUE LEADERSHIP) Act of 2016. This legislation, through a combination of loans, grants and tax credits, would inject over $70 billion over the next 10 years into water infrastructure projects for the removal and replacement of lead drinking water pipes.
On April 25, 2016, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the S. 2848, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). This legislation authorizes 25 Army Corps of Engineers projects in 17 states. WRDA will also make the Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act program permanent, which will provide low-interest loans to large scale water infrastructure projects. S. 2848 also creates a water trust fund which will provide capitalization grants for water infrastructure projects, financed by fees collected from a voluntary labeling system on consumer goods.
On May 24th, the House Appropriations Committee released FY17 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. In total, the bill would shave $186 million off of the EPA’s State Revolving Fund Programs, but increases the Drinking Water SRF by $207 million. The bill will also provides $50 million to capitalize the WIFIA program.
The Clean Water Council supports any and all efforts to advance water infrastructure through financing, innovation, and streamlining. Encourage your Representative and Senators to support meaningful investment in water infrastructure