Congress Releases Appropriations Package with Key Clean Water Funding
Congressional appropriators released their long-awaited Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Omnibus Appropriations package March 9 after months of working to come to a final agreement. This bill will fund the federal government for the rest of the current federal fiscal year until September 30, 2022. The House passed the measure late on March 9 and the Senate is expected to approve it in the next few days.
In the meantime, Congress will also pass a four day Continuing Resolution (CR) to ensure the government stays funded past the current March 11th deadline to provide additional time for the Omnibus package to make it through both chambers and onto President Biden’s desk for signature.
Overall, the $1.5 trillion FY22 Omnibus provides $9.5 billion for EPA’s budget, an increase of $323 million above the current level, and billions of dollars in annual funding for key Agency clean water programs. These FY22 annual clean water appropriations are in addition to the billions in mandatory clean water appropriations that were provided for under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was enacted in November. EPA released their implementation guidance memo on the BIL earlier this week.
Due to partisan disagreements over FY22 topline spending numbers, the Omnibus provides only baseline levels of funding or minimal increases to many existing core programs. It also does not include appropriations for the newly authorized clean water programs that were authorized under the BIL, including an EPA federal low-income water assistance program.
NACWA has already begun working with the Biden Administration to ensure that FY23 appropriations levels provide increased funding for existing clean water programs and dedicated resources for newly authorized BIL clean water programs, and we will be working with Congress as well in the coming months as they begin the FY23 process.
- $1.639 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), including allowing up to $1.5 million to be used to conduct the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey. While this $1.639 billion amount represents the current baseline level, NACWA has concerns that this funding includes $444 million of clean water Community Project Funding Items/Congressionally Directed Spending (also known as earmarks).
NACWA has been very supportive of the return of the earmarks process and is excited to see several NACWA member project requests included. However, given the increasing clean water needs nationally, it is important that these funds are provided as additional appropriations, as they were prior to the 2011 earmark ban, and do not come at the expense of annual base SRF funding;
- $43 million for Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants (OSG), up $3 million over the current level;
- $69.5 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, including $5 million for further implementation of the state WIFIA (SWIFIA) program, overall up $4.5 million from the current level;
- $4 million for the Water Workforce Infrastructure grants program, up $1 million from the current level;
- Language supporting further funding for EPA’s ongoing activities related to integrated planning (IP) and EPA’s Office of Municipal Ombudsman; and
- $587 million for Geographic Programs, including among others the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, Puget Sounds, and Gulf of Mexico, up $45 million over current annual levels.
Additionally, the bill includes cybersecurity reporting provisions that would direct the Department of Homeland Security, through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), to take a more centralized role in overseeing cybersecurity matters impacting critical utility infrastructure sectors.
The measure is similar to one that passed the Senate on March 1 by Unanimous Consent and NACWA previously reported on. In short, the bill would establish a 72-hour federal reporting requirement for critical infrastructure sectors when a utility reasonably believes a cyber incident has occurred and a 24-hour reporting requirement if a cyber ransom payment is made. The bill applies to all critical infrastructure utilities, including electric, gas, water, and wastewater.
For specific questions on the FY22 Omnibus, or to discuss further, please contact Jason Isakovic on NACWA’s legislative team.