The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously reported out S. 692, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act (WIFA) on April 5. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Rob Portman (R-OH), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). The bipartisan legislation adds new tools to the Clean Water Act (CWA) toolbox to help municipalities more affordably meet their water infrastructure investment challenges. During the 114th Congress, this legislative proposal garnered bipartisan support from 95 Senators, and is endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, the National Leagues of Cities and NACWA.
The legislation codifies EPA’s Integrated Planning and Permitting process as an option for municipalities to address wastewater and stormwater management needs; provides municipalities flexibility to consider alternative approaches, such as green infrastructure, to comply with CWA requirements; authorizes use of compliance schedules to meet water quality-based standards; establishes an Office of Municipal Ombudsman to provide technical assistance to municipalities for help complying with CWA and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA); and, updates the 1997 CSO Financial Capability Assessment Guidance.
NACWA urges its members to contact their Member of Congress to support the legislation, and has created a resource page on its website to aid in this outreach.