NACWA, EPA Discuss Infrastructure Bill Implementation
NACWA held a virtual meeting January 6 with EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox and other senior EPA Office of Water staff to discuss implementation issues and distribution of funds from the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure legislation, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
The meeting follows a letter that NACWA sent to EPA last month outlining initial considerations and concerns from the Association regarding implementation of the legislation. The bill provides $55 billion in new federal water spending over the next five years, but also creates a series of new programs and requirements that EPA and the states will need to work through in distributing the funds.
Members of NACWA’s Board of Director’s Affordability Task Force participated on the call and provided important insights from the clean water sector perspective on how best to ensure the IIJA funds are effectively spent. Of particular concern to utilities and EPA is how to ensure funds are made available to low-income and disadvantaged communities that have not traditionally received federal water funding. There was good conversation during the meeting on this issue and EPA is interested in further thoughts from NACWA on how the concept of disadvantaged communities is defined.
Another area of discussion was how the 49% of IIJA funds allocated for grants will be distributed. EPA is also very focused on these funds going to traditionally underserved communities, and meeting participants engaged in good discussion on how to best ensure these dollars can fund projects that will have the most economic and environmental benefit.
NACWA looks forward to continued dialogue with EPA on implementation issues moving forward, including as part of the Association’s upcoming Winter Conference. Members with any questions can contact Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s General Counsel & Chief Advocacy Officer.