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Senate Committee Discusses 2018 WRDA

This post was originally published on this site

Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the new Water Resource and Development Act (WRDA) titled America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S 2800).  The bill is not yet available at Congress.gov but should be posted within the next few days.

Most of the legislation deals with traditional Corps of Engineers activities; however, ASDWA has learned that there are several elements that would, if the legislation passes as introduced, affect state drinking water programs.:

  • Sec. 5002: Extends the authorization for the WIFIA program for FYs 20 and 21 at $100 million each year and allows $2.2 million of those funds to be used each year for administrative costs (shared between EPA and the Corps of Engineers)
  • Sec. 5005: Expands DWSRF provisions to authorize up to 10% of a state’s capitalization grant to implement source water protection plans; requires application of the Brooks Act (requires that the U.S. Federal Government select engineering and architecture firms based upon their competency, qualifications and experience rather than by price) be applied for DWSRF loans made to communities serving more than 10,000 population; and formalizes establishment of the WaterSense program under the SDWA
  • Sec. 5008: Amends SDWA §1459 to define “intractable water system” and require that EPA, in consultation with HHS and USDA, study intractable systems and describe barriers to delivery of potable water
  • Sec. 5010: Expresses the sense of Congress related to workforce and requires that EPA and the Corps establish a competitive grant program to promote development of innovative activities related to workforce development in the water utility sector
  • Sec. 5011: Expresses the sense of Congress that they provide robust funding for capitalization grants for both DWSRF and CWSRF programs.
  • Sec. 5012: Directs the Comptroller General to conduct a study and report to Congress on creation of flexibilities under WIFIA for small, rural, disadvantaged, and Tribal systems for both general access and how to lower the burden of applying for assistance.

This is not an exclusive list, there may be other SDWA-related provisions in this bill that have yet to be identified.  We do know that the language from Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that would have created a new WIFIA program just for states was not made a part of this legislation.  State primacy agencies should also recognize that this was the first hearing on this bill.  There likely will be language revisions to the measure as it progresses.  The House will also develop its own WRDA measure that may contain different provisions than what has been reported here.

 

ASDWA will continue to monitor WRDA reauthorization efforts in both the House and Senate to keep our members informed and up to date.