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Water Protection and Reinvestment Act for Wastewater Includes Trust Fund

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced HR 6249, the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act. The measure, a revised version of his 2009 bill by the same name, includes a water infrastructure trust fund to be supported by fees collected from “those who use water and contribute to water quality problems.” The fees (or taxes) would be collected at the manufacturing level and would include the following:

  • 3 cents per container excise tax on water-based beverages.
  • 3% excise tax on items such toothpaste, cosmetics, toilet paper, etc. that are disposed of in wastewater.
  • 0.5% excise tax on pharmaceutical products.

As written, the legislation affects only wastewater programs and the Clean Water SRF. Most of the funds generated by the fees and taxes under the newly created Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund (an estimated $6.5 billion per year) would go for loans and grants distributed through the CWSRF. Ten percent would be reserved to finance a new Water Infrastructure Financing Innovations Authority (WIFIA) to provide low-cost capital to clean water infrastructure projects. Another portion of the funds collected (no percentage identified) would be used to support grant programs such as for CWA §106 grants for state programs, §319 nonpoint source grants, and §222 sewer overflow control. Additional funding would also be included for research, workforce development, energy and water efficiency, and a competitive “drug take back” grant program to support state, local, tribal, and nonprofit programs to reduce the presence of pharmaceuticals in water. Finally, some funds would support a new National Academy of Sciences Cost of Service Study to analyze “the means by which public water systems and treatment works meet the costs associated with operations, maintenance, capital replacement, and regulatory requirements.”

ASDWA will monitor the progress of this as yet unnumbered legislation and keep state drinking water programs up to date.