(February 19, 2019) – Over four months into the 2019 Fiscal Year (FY) and on the heels of the longest government shutdown in US history, Congress last week agreed on a bipartisan spending bill that will fund the government, including EPA, for the remainder of FY 2019, ending September 30. President Trump signed the bill into law on February 15.
The legislation maintains the significant increases made in FY18 for clean water infrastructure and related programs that NACWA and the water sector had previously supported.
Specifically, the legislation appropriates $2.9 billion in total for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The CWSRF would receive $1.694 billion in FY19, maintaining the more than 21 percent increase provided last year from previous years appropriations. Also, the bill provides $68 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, a $5 million increase over FY18 levels.
EPA’s overall FY19 budget under the legislation is increased slightly over current levels by $25 million for a total base budget of $8.8 billion.
The bill also provides $1.45 billion for USDA rural water and waste program loans, which is a $200 million increase above the FY18 level.
Funding for EPA’s geographical programs for FY19, including its two largest, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program, are maintained at current levels of $300 million and $73 million, respectively. The Long Island Sound and Gulf of Mexico programs each receive a $2 million funding increases over FY18 levels.
Lastly, the bill includes language that encourages EPA to continue working to update its affordability guidance using new methodology, other than the metric of 2 percent of median house income for determining community affordability, for use in updating all relevant EPA guidance. This is an issue that NACWA has long advocated for the Association is continuing work with other groups in the water sector to ensure more appropriate metrics and methodology are used in EPA’s updated guidance.
As Congress now begins working on the FY20 appropriations process, continued advocacy will be imperative to make sure increased funding for the clean water sector and its vital programs continues, including for workforce issues and other priorities. NACWA will be active in advocating for these funding initiatives.
Please contact Jason Isakovic or Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Directors, to discuss further.