ASDWA Releases New White Paper on Defining Disadvantaged Communities within the DWSRFs

Today (1/31), ASDWA is releasing a new white paper: “A New Era for the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds: Identifying Ways to Better Assist Disadvantaged Communities.” The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has specific requirements for state programs distributing these funds, including a 49% subsidy requirement in the form of grants, principal forgiveness, or negative interest rate loans for communities deemed disadvantaged. The Safe Drinking Water Act leaves defining what constitutes a “disadvantaged community” (DAC) up to the state Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs. In response to the release of BIL, EPA issued a memorandum: Implementation of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Provisions on March 8, 2022. Among other things, the memo spelled out the Agency’s expectations for states to evaluate and revise, as needed, their DWSRF DAC definitions.

ASDWA saw the value in collecting and disseminating knowledge between the states regarding their work to evaluate and revise their DAC definitions. This white paper is the culmination of those discussions and includes an analysis of the changes made by states to their DAC definitions after the passage of BIL and a comparison to EPA’s June 2022 report, “DWSRF Disadvantaged Community Definitions: A Reference for States.” It also includes 10 case studies of DWSRF programs that modified either their DAC definitions or their affordability criteria to better meet the needs of their communities. ASDWA intends for state staff to use this document as they work to analyze the viability of their current DAC definitions and affordability criteria, modify these parameters, or continue to evaluate their new definitions. Additionally, the paper will prove useful to those working in the drinking water and environmental justice space. The paper can be found on ASDWA’s Environmental Justice webpage, along with ASDWA’s existing interactive table for state definitions of DAC.