Senate Passes Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act

On Thursday the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (S 914) in an 89-2 vote. The $35 billion water infrastructure bill is seen as a bipartisan effort that may set the stage for future infrastructure negotiations.

The bill would reauthorize both the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), noting that the CWSRF has never been reauthorized since its original enactment in 1987, although it has been funded. The DWSRF would be reauthorized 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. United States Senate Seal - Fredericksburg Today

The bill would also authorize $300 million for the lead WIIN grants: $100 million annually through fiscal 2026 for grants supporting projects to reduce the concentration of lead in drinking water, including by replacing lead service lines and $200 million through fiscal 2026 for grants to support lead testing in schools and childcare programs. The bill would also create a new $10 million pilot grant program for lead inventory projects in communities where at least 30 percent of service lines may contain lead.

Two amendments to the bill were approved: one to requiring EPA to annually conduct a study on the prevalence of boil water advisories and report the findings to Congress and a second to expand the existing EPA Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water Grant Program to include more small and disadvantaged communities, including households with private wells.

In the House, several bills have been introduced to address water infrastructure funding. House bill HR 1915 would authorize $40 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $10 billion in grants to communities to improve water quality and local wastewater infrastructure. Another House bill, HR 1848, would provide $51.6 billion over five years 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. The Senate bill invests far less than the $111 billion for water proposed in Biden’s infrastructure plan, which called for $45 million for lead service line removal alone. Infrastructure negotiations are expected to continue through the Summer.