WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation introduced in the House Thursday will help states and local communities – including small and rural communities – address their wastewater infrastructure needs. The bill improves the wastewater infrastructure permitting process and provides flexibility communities often need to take on complex projects.
The Wastewater Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2021 was introduced by Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC), along with Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK).
“In many communities in my district and around the Nation, water and wastewater infrastructure is long past its design life and in need of urgent repair, replacement, and upgrading,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC), sponsor of the legislation. “This is especially the case for many of our small and rural communities. I’m proud to introduce this bill, which will provide struggling communities with the resources and flexibility necessary to address their growing needs as well as establish greater resiliency and sustainability of the Nation’s wastewater infrastructure.”
“States and communities across the country face tight budgets and difficult choices with the amount of resources that are available to them – especially our rural and smaller communities. That’s why this bill is so important,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), a co-sponsor of the bill. “The Wastewater Infrastructure Improvement Act provides for critical investments, reduces bureaucratic burdens at the local level, and gives communities more tools and flexibility to address their substantial wastewater infrastructure needs. I look forward to working with the Chair and members of the Majority to reach bipartisan agreement on these important issues just as we did last Congress.”
“Alaska’s communities know just how important water infrastructure is, and we should be doing all that we can to bring dependable infrastructure to all corners of Alaska. The State Revolving Fund program is critical for securing funding for water, sewage, and solid waste system upgrades in Alaska and across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of this issue; without reliable water infrastructure, it is that much harder to promote public sanitation and keep families healthy,” said Young. “I am proud to help introduce this legislation, which takes important steps to ensure that Alaska’s families have access to the water they need to thrive. I am grateful for Representative Rouzer and Ranking Member Graves for their leadership on this vital issue, and I will continue working hard to keep improving our water infrastructure for years to come.”
The legislation authorizes federal funding for major Clean Water Act infrastructure programs administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, the primary source of federal assistance to states and communities for wastewater infrastructure construction. Clean Water SRF capitalization grants are commonly used by the states to help communities fund sewer overflow and stormwater projects, water pollution control activities, and water recycling and reuse projects.
This bill largely reflects a bipartisan agreement reached last Congress on similar legislation the Committee approved, including agreed upon authorization levels.
Highlights of the Wastewater Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2021:
- Reauthorizes the Clean Water SRF program for the first time since 1994 at levels ($14 billion over five years) ensuring real progress will be made in tackling needed wastewater projects.
- Reauthorizes other important clean water programs, including for providing assistance to states in implementing state water quality improvement programs and sewer overflow and stormwater management projects.
- Reduces red tape and encourages long-term planning by providing additional permit flexibility with longer permit terms to help communities address local water quality challenges.
- Provides resources for technical assistance to small and rural municipalities struggling to address their wastewater infrastructure needs.
- Provides additional flexibility for our cities and towns to pursue the utility upgrades that are best for them, not what is dictated by Washington.