Clean Water in Spotlight on Capitol Hill as NACWA Members Testify Before House; Senate Considers Water Bill
Clean water has been front and center this week before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee and the full U.S. Senate.
On Wednesday, the T&I Committee’s Water and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing titled Sustainable Wastewater Infrastructure: Measures to Promote Resiliency and Climate Adaptation and Mitigation. NACWA Vice President Kishia Powell, from DC Water, and Robert Ferrante, from NACWA member utility the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, testified on behalf of their respective utilities about the work they are doing on resilience and climate adaptation. They also highlighted the important role the federal government can play in further assisting communities to meet those challenges.
The hearing builds on the testimony of NACWA Board Member OJ McFoy before the T&I Committee in February and Powell’s before the Senate EPW Committee in March, in which they both highlighted the growing infrastructure investment needs of the clean water sector.
The hearing also further advances the T&I Committee’s work to move its clean water infrastructure bill, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021, through the House and work with the Senate to pass into law a comprehensive infrastructure and investment bill this year with water as a priority.
As part of this ultimate infrastructure goal, the Senate is considering bipartisan legislation, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA), S. 914, that authorizes tens of billions of dollars in new federal investment for clean water and drinking water programs. Included in the bill is the first ever reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to help public clean water utilities more affordably meet their growing infrastructure needs.
The Senate also authorizes a new U.S. EPA pilot program to develop and implement programs to provide assistance to public drinking water and clean water utilities to assist low-income households in maintaining access to affordable water services, provisions which NACWA has worked with Congress on for several years. NACWA strongly supports the legislation, which previously passed unanimously in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW).
While the exact path forward on how the House and Senate come together to advance a comprehensive infrastructure bill to President Biden’s desk remains unclear, both chambers are committed to achieving this goal.
NACWA will soon be providing a more in-depth analysis of the Senate legislation, as well as updates 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.