EPA Finalizes Allocation Formula for Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Grants Program
(February 24, 2021) – EPA published a notice in today’s Federal Register announcing an allocation formula for the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants Program. The funding for this Program was originally authorized 20 years ago but money was never appropriated until the 2018 and 2019 America’s Water Infrastructure Act process that secured $28 million and $40 million in appropriations, respectively.
NACWA submitted comments to EPA in September 2020 highlighting several concerns with the Agency’s proposed allocation formula. Notably, the new allocation formula distributes funds to states based on a weighted scale that considers the most recent Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (CWNS)(50%), total population (16.7%), urban population (16.7%), and annual average precipitation (16.7%).
NACWA has expressed concern that the bulk of the allocation formula relies on the CWNS, which often has a significant time lag with its data. As an example, the current CWNS data dates from 2012. The CWNS has never been used for specific funding allocations and to-date has been more informational and voluntary in nature.
While EPA did not change the allocation formula from its proposed version to its final version, the Agency has separately acknowledged NACWA’s concerns about the need for more timely and complete data for the CWNS, especially given that it is now part of an important federal funding allocation formula. NACWA will continue to work with EPA and Congress to advocate for more robust and regular data collection and publication of the CWNS.
While NACWA understands that some parts of the country may have varying opinions about the new metrics in the formula, the Association believes that the allocation formula will—when combined with existing funding programs like the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program—help direct federal funds towards investment projects most in need of federal assistance.
If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.