Congress Passes Infrastructure Legislation with Major Investments for Clean Water, President Will Sign into Law Next Week

Nov 10, 2021

After several years of ongoing discussions in Washington, DC about the need for comprehensive infrastructure legislation, and NACWA’s continuous advocacy to ensure public clean water investment was a key component, Congress finally acted Nov.5 by passing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill, H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which President Biden is expected to sign into law next week.

For clean water, the legislation provides some of the largest and most critical federal investments ever for communities to update aging infrastructure, as well as help address growing climate, water quality, and affordability challenges.

Passage of the IIJA is a major achievement for the public water sector and demonstrates the value and importance of the ongoing advocacy NACWA and its members are tirelessly doing to ensure Congress understands the needs of their communities in providing safe, reliable, and more affordable clean water services. NACWA and its members played a critical role in helping secure the clean water components in the bill. 

In the coming days, NACWA will provide members with a detailed overview and in-depth analysis of the key clean water funding and provisions included in the IIJA. The Association also put out a press release about the bill’s passage.

While this legislation is not perfect, nor does it reflect the level of federal clean water investment truly needed, the funding for clean water provided in this legislation -- particularly in the form of direct grant dollars -- demonstrate that the sector’s voice has been loudly heard by Congress. It also further builds upon the success achieved in securing billions of dollars through the COVID-19 relief packages passed into law late last year and again earlier this year.

As part of the agreement House Leadership reached between moderate Democrats and progressives to secure support of the IIJA, shortly after passage, House Democrats voted on a procedural rule that provides for consideration to begin over the coming weeks of the legislative Reconciliation proposal, H.R. 5376 Build Back Better Act, for investment in a host of economic, climate, and social priorities - including clean water.

While Congress is in recess this week, work is continuing behind the scenes in Washington on ways to advance the Build Back Better Act with full Democrat support through both the House and Senate.  Central to this process is a final budgetary score of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  NACWA will keep members apprised as further developments unfold and we urge all members to continuing advocating for the highest level of investment for clean water as part of any final Reconciliation bill.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox also held a nationwide webinar for clean water utilities on November 10 to discuss elements of the IIJA and how EPA plans to engage with stakeholders to help ensure the funds are distributed as efficiently as possible.  Fox noted the critical role that clean water utilities play in their communities and thanked them for their efforts.

NACWA thanks all of its members for your continued dedication to clean water advocacy. Without your efforts, none of these achievements over the past year would have been possible.   Please contact Kristina Surfus and Jason Isakovic to discuss further or with any questions. 

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