Creating & Reauthorizing $35 Billion in Drinking Water & Wastewater Infrastructure Projects (S. 914)
Do you support or oppose this bill?
What is S. 914?
(Updated February 27, 2022)
This bill — known as the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 — would reauthorize and create programs to support drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects at a cost of more than $35 billion from FY2022 through FY2026. A breakdown of its various provisions can be found below.
Funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund would be reauthorized and increased as follows: $2.4 billion for FY2022; $2.75 billion for FY2023; $3 billion for FY2024; $3.25 billion for FY2025 and FY2026.
The Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities program would be authorized to receive $70 million for FY2022; $80 million for FY2023; $100 million for FY2024; $120 million for FY2025; and $140 million for FY2026.
Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide technical assistance and grants for emergencies affecting public water systems at $35 million annually for the FY2022-26 period. Technical assistance to small public water systems would receive $15 million annually for FY2022-26.
The Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability program would be authorized at $25 million for the FY2022-26 period with a 90% federal cost share for aid to small, rural, and disadvantaged communities.
Several initiatives to reduce lead in drinking water infrastructure would be facilitated by this bill, including $10 million for a pilot program to help communities use mapping information. Funding would be authorized to address lead in school drinking water systems, including $30 million for FY2022; $35 million for FY2023; $40 million for FY2024; $45 million for FY2025; and $50 million for FY2026.
Additionally, this section would require:
The EPA to study community water needs, including in rural areas, and provide recommendations on providing affordable and safe drinking water and wastewater.
Creation of a pilot program to provide grants to develop and implement programs to help needy households maintain access to drinking water and wastewater treatment.
Creation of a program to facilitate grants to link households to public water infrastructure, with $20 million annually from FY2022-26.
Funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds would be authorized at $2.4 billion for FY2022; $2.75 billion for FY2023; $3 billion for FY2024; and $3.25 billion for FY2025 and FY2026.
Funding under the Clean Water Act for research, investigations, training, and information would be authorized at $75 million annually for FY2022-26.
A pilot program would be created to facilitate grants for projects that seek to bolster waste-to-energy projects and authorized with $20 million annually for the program from FY2022-26. It would also stipulate that grants not exceed $4 million.
An existing pilot program for alternative water source projects would be reauthorized with $25 million annually for FY2022-26.
EPA would be directed to create a clean water infrastructure resiliency and sustainability program to provide grants aimed at protecting water systems from weather events and cybersecurity risks. The program would be authorized at $25 million annually for FY2022-26.
A circuit rider program for small and medium sized, publicly owned treatment works would be created by the EPA. It would be authorized to receive $10 million in annual funding for FY2022-26.
The EPA would be directed to create an efficiency grant program for small publicly owned treatment works to support water and energy efficiency in disadvantaged communities, as well as those in rural areas with a population of less than 10,000 people.
The Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development program would be reauthorized at $5 million annually for FY2022-26. A federal interagency working group would be created to report to Congress on bolstering the water and wastewater utility workforce. The working group would consist of members from the EPA, the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Labor, the Dept. of Agriculture, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and other appropriate federal agencies.
EPA would be directed to create a water data sharing pilot program aimed at ensuring the coordination of data and information regarding water quality and needs between state and local governments. It would be authorized at $15 million annually for FY2022-26.
Additionally, this bill would:
Reauthorize the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act program at $50 million annually for FY2022-26.
Direct EPA to facilitate grants to institutions to serve as centers of excellence for stormwater control infrastructure technologies.
Direct EPA to create a Water Reuse Interagency Working Group to identify ways to support water reuse and compile a national action plan to support the initiative.
Argument in favor
This bipartisan bill would create and reauthorize a variety of infrastructure programs aimed at improving America’s drinking water and wastewater systems with $35 billion over the next five years.
This legislation may be bipartisan but it either invests too little or too much money in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs across the country.
Community drinking water and wastewater agencies and infrastructure; and the EPA.
Cost of S. 914
The CBO estimates that after accounting for revenue changes caused by this bill that the deficit would increase by $1.035 billion over the 2021-2031 period.
In-Depth: Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) offered the following statement after his committee crafted this bipartisan water infrastructure bill:
“Far too many Americans can’t trust what comes out of their faucets and many more are only one disaster away from being in the same situation. This is a crisis — one that is acutely felt by the most vulnerable among us — and we have a moral obligation to fix it. The bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act is a critical step to strengthen our nation’s water systems and ensure that all Americans have access to clean and safe drinking water and wastewater. I’m proud to join with my EPW colleagues to introduce this important infrastructure legislation.”
Lead Republican cosponsor and EPW Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) added:
“The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act will advance infrastructure to help local communities keep their drinking water safe and clean. With investments to identify and prevent water loss, test water quality, increase resilience in infrastructure, and recruit the next generation of our water workforce, the priorities laid out in the bill speak to the bipartisan goal of ensuring neglected water systems are not merely tended to, but made stronger. This bill is not a band-aid — it provides essential assistance to our country’s aging water systems and the communities they serve. In a greater sense, this bill also represents the solid work that comes out of good-faith negotiations. This is a meaningful bill every Republican and Democrat can get behind.”
Lead Democratic sponsor Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) added:
“Every American has a right to clean water — no matter their zip code, the color of their skin or the size of their income. From permanent brain damage from drinking water contaminated with lead, to overflowing sewage, Americans across the country are now experiencing what happens when our drinking water and wastewater systems age into a state of disrepair. Rebuilding our water infrastructure must be at the heart of the ongoing ‘Build Back Better’ efforts because we will have missed a huge opportunity to improve American lives if we only fix our roads, but fail to repair and upgrade the pipes beneath them. It’s clear that the lack of investments in our water infrastructure has led to a public health crisis and we have to do more to stop it, which is why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help us do that.”
This legislation was advanced by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with a unanimous vote in mid-March 2021. It has the support of 13 bipartisan cosponsors, including seven Republicans and six Democrats.
Bill Text (Substitute Amendment #1460)
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: iStock.com / tuachanwatthana)
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