Energy & Commerce Subcommittee Marks Up Drinking Water Bill

The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment introduced and marked up a yet unnumbered discussion draft/bill titled “Drinking Water System Improvement Act of 2017.”  Sponsored by Subcommittee Chair John Shimkus (R-IL), the measure looks to improve the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in three principal areas:  increased funding for both the DWSRF and PWSS programs; enhanced compliance opportunities for water systems; and ensuring that funds are wisely spent in the name of public health protection.
In brief, the bill:

  • Authorizes $150 million/year through FY 22 for PWSS grants
  • Authorizes $8 billion in new funding for the DWSRF through incremental increases of $0.2 billion/year through FY 22 so that DWSRF would be authorized (not yet appropriated) at $2.0 billion in FY 22.
  • Extends American Iron & Steel (Buy American) provisions for the next five years
  • Expands DWSRF eligibilities to include rehabilitation and replacement of aging treatment, storage, or distribution facilities at public water systems and extends loan repayment terms
  • Calls for a minimum 6% reservation of DWSRF funds for disadvantaged communities (if identified)
  • Calls for improvements in electronic data reporting
  • Calls for new best practice examples for how states implement the DWSRF
  • Specifies funding availability for source water protection plans
  • Notification protocols for chemical spills and unauthorized releases.

ASDWA was invited to provide states’ perspectives on many of these items and engaged frequently with Subcommittee staff.  ASDWA also testified on the elements contained in this draft during two Subcommittee hearings in March and May.  Thanks to both ASDWA President Randy Ellingboe (MN) and President-Elect Lisa Daniels (PA) for their hard work in developing and delivering testimony on behalf of ASDWA.
The next step is for this measure to be taken up by the full Energy and Commerce Committee.  No dates or other information about that process have been shared to date.
To view the markup recording; download the bill test; and view the en bloc amendments that were passed, go to: .