Nov 09, 2021

Water & Wastewater Industry Associations Respond to Infrastructure Bill

Water & wastewater associations weigh in on the passage of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act

storm water

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a nearly $1.2 trillion bill that includes $550 billion in new spending Nov. 5.

$55 billion of that new spending is allocated to drinking water, wastewater, and storm water infrastructure funding aimed at expanding access to clean drinking water for households, businesses, schools, and child care centers across the country. For a complete breakdown of what is in the bill, read our breakdown article here: 

Water Environment Federation (WEF)

WEF showed support for this package, noting that it is similar to what was passed by the Senate in Apr. 2021 in the Drinking Water & Wastewater Infrastructure Act.

"With the final passage by Congress of this infrastructure package, the water sector will get the largest boost in federal funding for local water infrastructure it has received in decades," said WEF President Jamie Eichenberger in a press release. "This massive funding increase is the result of years of hard work by WEF and our members to make Congress understand the desperate need for water infrastructure investments in communities nationwide."

With the IIJA, WEF sent a letter opposing the Buy America requirements that will expand in SRF and WIFIA to include “manufactured goods,” but agreed with almost all other aspects of the bill. WEF had also previously sent a letter to the U.S. House in support of the earlier version of a water infrastructure bill. 

American Water Works Association (AWWA)

AWWA provided commentary about the IIJA, noting the importance of funding for the WIFIA, SRF and lead service line programs.

"Renewing and upgrading the nation's water infrastructure is critical to protect public health, safeguard the environment and allow our economy to prosper,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “As the largest association of water professionals in the world, AWWA is grateful to the U.S. Congress and President Biden for making water infrastructure a priority in enacting the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. By reauthorizing the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and doubling funding for the drinking water State Revolving Fund, the federal government is helping states and local water providers to spur on critical water projects. In addition, the $15 billion designated for lead service line replacement is a welcome down payment on what could be a $60 billion challenge.”

Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA)

WWEMA Executive Director Vanessa Leiby said the organization applauds the passage of the bill, but noted the challenges down the line given the Buy America language included in the bill.

“The Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) is pleased that the House has passed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and sent it to the President for signature,” Leiby said. “While we applaud the new funding and programs for the drinking water and wastewater sector, we also recognize the significant challenges that will now exist to spending those funds due to the expansion of Buy America requirements to ALL manufactured goods. We look forward to continuing our dialog with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Made in America Office as to steps they will take to ensure that our sector continues to have access to the quality and cutting edge technologies needed to move our sector forward and solve the challenges before us.”

National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) 

NACWA showed support for The House’s passage of the bill, but notes that this bill only contains roughly half the amount initially proposed for water infrastructure by the Administration.

“NACWA applauds the Biden Administration and leaders in both the House and Senate for working across party lines to pass critical infrastructure legislation that includes significant federal investments in public clean water services for state and local communities,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz in a press release. “Just as roads, bridges, and broadband contribute to vibrant communities, the public clean water sector is vital to America’s public health and the environment. This legislation takes strides to help provide all households with clean and safe water services at an affordable cost. NACWA’s members look forward to working with stakeholders at all levels of government to implement this legislation.”

Regardless, NACWA added that Congress has worked to include further investments to strengthen the resilience of water utilities and the communities they serve in the Build Back Better Act, for which the association also urged continued support.

National Ground Water Association (NGWA)

NGWA provided commentary about the significant industry-specific provisions in the bill, but critiqued the amount of investment for a few of the provisions.

“While we would have preferred to see a larger investment in private water well infrastructure, especially in rural America, this bill does provide crucial funding for aquifer recharge projects, storm water management, and PFAS remediation, all of which will support groundwater supply and quality throughout the country,” said Brian Snelten, NGWA president-elect.

Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA)

ASDWA is in support of the passage of the IIJA and has provided a few comments about a few pitfalls regarding matching funding. 

“ASDWA's members are enthusiastic and a little overwhelmed by the passage of the Infrastructure Bill,” said J. Alan Roberson, ASDWA executive director. “The increased funding is significant and will go a long way towards increased public health protection. But many challenges lie ahead, ranging from financial challenges such as the states' having to find the 20% match for the funding to the technical challenges in finding out where all of the lead service lines are and then replacing them in a timely manner.”

US Water Alliance

US Water Alliance applauded that the IIJA will pour resources into programs that get funding into the hands of localities, and also noted the provisions are more equity-centered, although “this legislation is not without its gaps.” 

“We are thrilled to see this historic investment in our nation’s water infrastructure, and we look forward to deploying our network to achieve the best implementation for these funds,” said Mami Hara, US Water Alliance CEO in a press release. “We also look forward to the forthcoming Reconciliation legislation, which also potentially includes additional important water and climate provisions. Investing in infrastructure—specifically water—has vast support from the overwhelming majority of Americans. Water is too essential to wait.” 

The US Water Alliance also reacted to the infrastructure package the Senate passed in August.

WateReuse Association

The WateReuse Association was pleased with the passage of the bill and applauds its massive investment in water recycling. The association acknowledged that it has worked closely with several congressional champions over months to secure these provisions, thanking them for their efforts and persistence.

“Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply—essential for livable communities with healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life,” said Patricia Sinicropi, executive director of the WateReuse Association. “With enactment of the bi-partisan infrastructure investment package, Congress and the Administration recognize the essential role water recycling is playing in helping communities confront the impacts of climate change and build more resilient and sustainable water resources for their communities. This is an important day for water in the U.S.”

WateReuse Association also added that it appreciates that the legislation does not include any new federal mandates on local governments.

American Public Works Association (APWA)

APWA supported the passage of the bill and commended lawmakers for taking historic strides towards improving infrastructure. Both its president and its CEO provided comments on the bill’s passage.

“Congress’ long-awaited approval of IIJA tonight is welcomed and applauded across the country by public works professionals,” said APWA President Stan Brown. “From 2003 to 2017, federal infrastructure spending dropped more than 20% and negatively affected those who rely on our highways, roads, bridges, transit, and water and wastewater systems.”

“IIJA promises to upgrade all areas of this country’s infrastructure,” said APWA CEO Scott Grayson. “From roads and bridges to better protecting communities against natural disasters to modernizing our water infrastructure network, this long-awaited legislation will make significant upgrades in people’s lives.

National Association of Water Companies (NAWC)

NAWC showed full support for the bill and acknowledged its inclusion of provisions that the association values. 

“The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress and championed by President Biden is a milestone for infrastructure investment in the U.S.,” said President and CEO of NAWC Robert F. Powelson in a press release. “The bill includes important priorities for NAWC companies – including common sense reforms to the income exemption for contributions in aid of construction and government grants, an EPA-based pilot low-income assistance program, and a required study into compliance rates of water and wastewater systems nationwide. The bill also includes billions of dollars to fix the country’s ailing water infrastructure that is a much-needed investment for this essential part of the American economy.”

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition was pleased with the passage of the bill and encouraged federal lawmakers to use its passage as momentum to act on climate change. The bill contains many priorities of the coalition.

“The bipartisan infrastructure bill is a victory for the Great Lakes and the millions of people who depend on them for their drinking water, health, jobs, and quality of life,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition in a press release. “This bill is a big step forward in addressing the water infrastructure crisis threatening our communities. We’ve seen the positive impact that federal investments in the Great Lakes and clean water have had on the region. These infrastructure investments will allow for this important work to continue and provide much-needed help to the communities that have been most impacted by pollution. We thank members of Congress for supporting this vital bill and urge President Biden to sign it into law.”

National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA)

"The provisions for the storm water sector in the BIF represents the most significant single investment ever made in our sector," said a statement for NMSA. "We support this investment and will be working to ensure that funding targeted for the storm water sector and to disadvantaged, low-income and rural communities are carried out as spelled out in the legislation. The future of our nation's waters as well as the stability and safety of our communities depends upon major investments in storm water management infrastructure and resilience planning. The BIF represents a historic step in this direction and we hope there will be more investments like this in the future."  

Stormwater Equipment Manufacturers Association (SWEMA)

“In the ASCE 2020 Report Card for American Infrastructure, storm water was included for the first time and it received a D grade, below the average of C-" said SWEMA in a statement. "An injection of funding from the Infrastructure bill is both necessary and appreciated. SWEMA is optimistic that some of the funding will be directed to water quality improvement in addition to water quantity control. We believe that Centers of Excellence for Stormwater Control Infrastructure Technologies, as mentioned in Section 50217, is an excellent place to start. SWEMA will be working with other organizations in the storm water space, such as the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) to help guide the implementation of the new Centers of Excellence.”