Clean Water Current

NACWA Submits Comments Urging Broader SRF Waiver for BABAA Requirements; Members Encouraged to Comment

Jun 23, 2022

NACWA submitted comments June 23 to U.S. EPA regarding its proposed Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA) waiver for the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. The proposed SRF waiver would exempt from BABAA those projects seeking SRF funding that submitted engineering plans and specifications to an appropriate state agency prior to May 14, 2022, which was the statutory effective date of the BABAA requirements.

This waiver is narrower than the waiver that EPA recently proposed for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, which would exempt projects that “initiated design planning” prior to May 14, 2022. NACWA strongly supported the WIFIA waiver.

NACWA’s comments on the SRF waiver urge that it be expanded to align with the WIFIA approach. This would help utilities that may have already spent significant time and energy prior to BABAA on planning and design and may want to pursue SRF funding but had not yet submitted their plans and specifications to the state. Without the waiver, utilities may be forced to spend additional resources reevaluating projects or consider alternative, non-federal funding sources which could be more costly and which could mean less domestic purchasing is achieved by the project.

As previously reported, the BABAA requirements that passed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) significantly expand prior domestic procurement requirements. In addition to American Iron & Steel, domestic procurement rules also now apply to manufactured goods and construction materials seeking funding from any federal infrastructure investment program. The objective of BABAA is to help advance domestic manufacturing and supply chains and help ensure federal investments support American jobs.  

In addition to urging the expanded waiver, NACWA’s comments also urge EPA to work expeditiously to provide more guidance for utilities regarding BABAA’s expanded requirements around manufactured goods and construction materials, so utilities can begin considering these requirements at the start of the design process.

Comments on the SRF waiver are being accepted through June 29. NACWA urges any utilities that could be seeking SRF funding and be impacted by the waiver to submit individual comments to BABA-OW@epa.gov to help echo these concerns. NACWA is also coordinating closely with other national water associations on this issue.

Contact Kristina Surfus, NACWA Managing Director of Government Affairs to discuss.  

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