Final COVID Bill Adds $500 Million for Low-Income Program and Expands $350 Billion Pot of State/Local Funds for Water Infrastructure
Congress yesterday passed a new, major COVID-19 relief bill with significant new funding for water, sending the package to the White House for signature.
This follows action over the weekend in the United States Senate, which passed the American Rescue Plan Act along party lines on Saturday. The legislation is designed to deliver further COVID-19 relief, including an additional $500 million in assistance for clean and drinking water customers and support for critical water and sewer investments. The funding for low-income water assistance comes in addition to the initial $638 million provided in the December 2020 FY21 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Additionally, the relief package makes water and sewer infrastructure needs explicitly eligible to access the $350 billion of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which are intended to address COVID-19 expenses, lost state and local revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or necessary infrastructure investments in water, sewer, and broadband. It is important to note that the use of the funds for water and sewer investment does not have to be tied to COVID-19, and this expansion of eligible uses of the state and local funds was not included in the House’s original proposal.
NACWA will provide members with more information on the legislation over the coming days.
The inclusion of additional funding for low-income water customers and allowance of funds for water and sewer infrastructure reflects a growing acknowledgement in Congress of clean water as a critical priority, and one worthy of federal support alongside other critical sectors. NACWA believes water is well-positioned as Congress begins to turn from immediate COVID-19 relief to infrastructure investment. We encourage all members to remain engaged with their congressional delegations over the coming months.
Contact Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Director of Legislative affairs, to discuss further.