Interagency Webinar Outlines Water Funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The White House recently released a guidebook for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to navigate the bipartisan infrastructure law (BIL), which was signed into law in November 2021. On March 15, officials from the White House, Department of Interior (DOI) and EPA hosted “water school” – a webinar focused on water related provisions of the BIL.
This virtual session provided a comprehensive overview of the wide range of new and existing programs included in the BIL, such as the clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF) and enhanced large scale water recycling initiatives at the Bureau of Reclamation.
The first program discussed during the session was the CWSRF. An official from EPA underscored the agency’s focus on ensuring equitable access to the CWSRF for disadvantaged communities. In total, the CWSRF program received $12.7 billion in the package and dedicated 49% of that funding toward disadvantaged communities in the form of grants and forgivable loans.
Following the principles outlined in a recent EPA memo on implementation of the BIL, the Agency will be working with state CWSRF managers to refine their state-specific disadvantaged community definition. EPA believes that the dedicated CWSRF funding for disadvantaged communities, together with technical guidance from EPA, will advance the Agency’s goal of offering a more robust pipeline for CWSRF project financing.
An official from DOI also spoke on the webinar about the various Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) water programs that collectively received $8.3 billion in the BIL to distributed over the next 5 years. In addition to existing BOR program funding, the BIL established a new BOR initiative which offers grants to multi-benefit watershed improvement projects. Watershed management projects eligible for grant funding include water conservation and efficiency projects, drought mitigation efforts and projects that improve the natural condition of a watershed.
NACWA will continue to engage on all of these issues as the BIL implementation moves ahead. Please contact NACWA’s legislative team with questions or to discuss further.