Congress Passes SRF Transfer Bill; NACWA Advocating for Federal Low-Income Program
(October 2, 2019) – Congress recently passed legislation (S. 1689) to authorize a one-time transfer authority (during the 1-year period following enactment of the bill) for a State to transfer up to 5 percent of its cumulative clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF) federal grant dollars to that State’s DWSRF. Funds transferred must be used by the State to provide additional subsidies to address a public health threat from lead in drinking water.
The bill was championed by Sen. Booker (D-NJ), whose hometown of Newark is facing acute challenges related to lead in drinking water. The bill now awaits the President’s signature.
During discussions around the bill, NACWA expressed strong concerns with this approach of pulling money from one fund to pay for another and the potential impact on the revolving nature of the CWSRF, and emphasized how the proposal could set a harmful precedent.
While our input was well-received by the bill’s sponsors and Committee staff, the bill supporters argued that the proposal was squarely aimed at local lead crises and that it was viewed as a one-time necessity given the situation in New Jersey. NACWA will continue working to ensure no precedent is set and strong funding is provided to both State Revolving Funds.
In a related development, NACWA continues to advance the concept of a federal low-income water assistance program that could help provide federal dollars to qualifying low-income households to pay for rising clean water bills. NACWA is partnering on an initiative with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) to advocate with Congress for a bill to pilot this concept, similar to bipartisan legislation that was introduced in the Senate last year. Work is currently focused on reintroducing the legislation and building a broad stakeholder coalition of support.