Clean Water Bill Advances Through Senate Committee as Biden Forms Infrastructure Package
Congress and the Biden Administration ramped up their focus on a comprehensive infrastructure and investment bill this week.
As a part of this process, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) took a key step today as it marked up and advanced bipartisan legislation, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA). The bill authorizes tens of billions of dollars of new federal investment for clean water and drinking water, as well as the authorization of an EPA pilot program to develop and implement programs to assist low-income households in maintaining access to affordable water services.
While the Senate bill does not provide the full levels of funding needed to address the growing clean water infrastructure needs across the country, it serves as a good starting point and reflects many of the issues highlighted by NACWA Vice President, Kishia Powell, during her testimony before the EPW Committee last week.
The Senate DWWIA bill, along with the House’s Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, are expected to serve as the legislative basis from each chamber for inclusion in a comprehensive infrastructure bill later this year.
NACWA sent the EPW Committee a letter of support for the bill, which highlights the importance critical clean water programs at increased funding levels can have on the public clean water sector’s ability to more affordably meet growing infrastructure needs, as well as help alleviate the increasing financial burden placed upon ratepayers, low-income households.
This markup is the beginning of a long and complicated legislative process towards securing substantial water funding in Biden’s upcoming infrastructure package. The Senate and House have both demonstrated that they are serious about water playing a key role in this infrastructure package.
Also this week, the White House indicated that it is putting together a proposal of up to three trillion dollars to address infrastructure investment and other needs. While the exact specifics of the package and the timing of when it will be released remain in flux, it is clear that the Biden Administration plans to quickly pivot from the recently passed COVID-19 relief package to a comprehensive infrastructure bill. NACWA is engaging the White House to ensure that water will be a central part of the proposal and has previously communicated the need for high levels of water infrastructure investment.
NACWA will continue to update members as further details of an infrastructure package unfold. In the meantime, NACWA members can help position the water sector for success as part of any infrastructure bill by advocating to their Senators and Representatives about the importance of including the highest level of water funding possible in an infrastructure bill, especially in the form of direct grants.