Infrastructure Updates: Senate Committee Advances Water Infrastructure Bill

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously advanced the “Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021” (S. 914) which includes reauthorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The legislation would reauthorize the DWSRF at $2.4 billion in fiscal 2022 and gradually increase the funding level to $3.25 billion in fiscal years 2025 and 2026 for a total of $14.7 billion. It would also increase the minimum percentage of subsidy for disadvantaged communities from 6% to 12%. The CWSRF would be reauthorized at the same funding levels as the DWSRF. The legislation includes funding for WIFIA, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, at the current funding level of $50 million per year through 2026. The bill would also reauthorize EPA’s lead reduction projects grant program and increase its funding level to $100 million annually through fiscal year 2026. The legislation was introduced after last week’s hearing, “Examining the Challenges Facing Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects,” during which ASDWA Past President, Shellie Chard, testified on behalf of the Association.

In the House, similar efforts have been led by the Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, who reintroduced the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act, or LIFT America Act (H.R. 1848), a $300 billion infrastructure package. According to a summary, the legislation includes $51.6 billion to increase funding for the DWSRF and other water programs and provides new funding for the replacement of lead service lines. The bill would also provide $2.5 billion to establish a new grant program to address PFAS chemicals in water supplies.

If both bills pass their respective chambers, they will have to rectify differences in a conference committee. Meanwhile, President Biden is expected to unveil his “Build Back Better” infrastructure investment plan in Pittsburgh next week. Media outlets are reporting a price tag of $2 to $4 trillion over the next 4 years.