America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

UPDATE – The House passed the measure late on Thursday afternoon.

The House and Senate have come, in principle, to agreement on how to proceed with water resources and water infrastructure needs in the US.  The vehicle for that agreement is S 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.  The House was expected to vote on the new measure this week but that may be delayed because of the impending hurricane.  Once the House acts, the Senate is expected to shortly follow suit.

This legislation includes elements from the House’s traditional Water Resource Development Act (HR 8), the House-passed Drinking Water System Improvement Act of 2017 (HR 3387), and Senator John Boozman’s (R-AR) SRF-WIN Act that grew into S 2800, an earlier version of the present America’s Water Infrastructure Act.

Key elements of the new legislation include reauthorization for both the PWSS and DWSRF programs for the first time in many years.  The PWSS program is authorized at $125 million for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.  The DWSRF capitalization grant program is authorized at $1.174 billion for FY 19, $1.3 billion for FY 20, and $1.95 billion for FY 21.  The measure also includes a $25 million authorization for an EPA grant to provide technical assistance in the voluntary school/childcare lead testing program and an additional authorization of $ million for FYs 19 and 20 to provide grants for assistance in replacing school drinking water fountains manufactured prior to 1988.

Other significant funding authorizations include:  $10 million for FYs 2019-20 for a competitive grant program for innovative technologies; $4 million for FYs 2019-20 to create a new Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability grant program to increase resilience to natural hazards; a separate $25 million authorization for a new Drinking Water Infrastructure Risk and Resiliency Program to award grants to CWS owners and operators for physical infrastructure improvements, equipment, intake relocations, flood protection barriers and other purposes; $5 million in authorizations for FYs 2020-21 for the Source Water Petition Program; $10 million for FY 19 for EPA to review existing and potential methods, means, equipment, and technologies that ensure physical integrity of CWS, and, among other things, facilitate source water assessment and protection; $15 million for each FY in which testing and lab analyses are required for small system UCMR monitoring and a separate $10 million authorization for traditional UCMR monitoring for FYs 2019-21; a $50 million annual authorization for FY 2020-21 for WIFIA; and a new $1 million competitive grant authorization for workforce development and career opportunities.  Finally, states with declared disaster declarations that meet certain conditions since January 2017 are eligible for a $100 million additional DWSRF capitalization grant authorization to address those disasters.

Language is also included that requires the application of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions to all construction loans that use Federal dollars.  The American Iron & Steel provisions are also extended through FY 2023.  Federal cross-cutters will be studied by the Comptroller General.  States may require a PWS with chronic NPDWR violations to assess options for consolidation and EPA will promulgate covering regulations within 2 years.  Consumer Confidence Report requirements now allow electronic distribution and the move for CWS serving more than 10,000 to provide CCRs at least biannually.  Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) will be the subject of a 5 year Corps of Engineers technology development demonstration program under the Aquatic Nuisance Research program.  Systems serving more than 3300 must submit updated risk assessments and emergency response plan that contain additional elements.  The WaterSense program is formally acknowledged.

The above represent just highlights of actions of interest to state drinking water programs.  There are numerous other provisions included in the bill that are not reflected here.  To read the bill text, click here,  ASDWA will continue to monitor and report on its progress toward passage and enactment.