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NACWA Engages EPA as Agency Focuses on Infrastructure Bill Implementation

Dec 1, 2021

Even before President Biden’s signature was dry on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law two weeks ago, EPA began looking toward implementation of the new, historic funding levels, which includes a total of $55 billion for the water sector (see here for a breakdown of those funds). 

EPA, like other federal agencies, has quickly mobilized to develop program guidance and coordinate with state and local partners to ensure efficient and effective implementation in the coming months. The President has also created an Infrastructure Implementation Task Force comprised of Cabinet level and other key Executive branch officials to help coordinate implementation, and EPA is staffing up several key positions to help advance implementation and coordinate with state and local partners.

NACWA recently met with senior staff in EPA’s Office of Water to begin discussing clean water sector perspectives on implementation and to identify important areas for input. EPA is targeting early 2022 for releasing program guidance for the key pots of funds under their authority. Timing of the funds that flow out as formula grants to the states (such as the increase in SRF dollars) will be further impacted by each state’s process for securing and spending federal dollars, including appropriating state matches. Accordingly, the actual money from the legislation will not start to flow for a number of months.

EPA will be seeking water sector input in a number of areas, including how to allocate the funds earmarked for emerging contaminants and how to implement expanded Buy American provisions. 

NACWA is urging EPA to provide appropriate flexibility where possible to smooth implementation of the funds by utilities, while also getting out the funds as expeditiously as possible. The funding in the IIJA is spread over five fiscal years, meaning EPA will be working quickly to release the initial ‘fiscal year 2022’ pots to be followed each subsequent year.

The Association’s Board of Directors has a task force working with Association staff to provide input on implementation and determine how NACWA members can best access the funds. NACWA will keep members updated as developments unfold, but is strongly urging continued member input on your top concerns and recommendations on IIJA implementation. NACWA staff is also working to coordinate on information sharing and outreach with other key clean water organizations. Please contact to Kristina Surfus or others on NACWA’s staff anytime to discuss IIJA implementation. 

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