The U.S. Senate delivered on April 29 a long-sought National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) legislative goal with the passage of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) on a noteworthy bipartisan vote, sending this important bill (S. 914) to the U.S. House.
“NUCA members are praising the U.S. Senate for the passage of S. 914 with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of 89-2,” said NUCA CEO Doug Carlson.
“This vote sends to the House a bill that promises $35 billion in investment over the next five years to provide clean water and economic growth to thousands of U.S. communities. NUCA members see first-hand every day the neglected water and wastewater infrastructure that they must repair. This bipartisan bill is a long-overdue investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will create thousands of new jobs and help ensure millions of Americans have access to clean and healthy drinking water and safe, sanitary wastewater systems,” said Carlson.
Carlson thanked the members of the U.S. Senate who made a down-payment on fixing America’s leaking and outdated water systems. Alarming events over the last several years in multiple U.S. states such as Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas demonstrated that only with Congress’s help and increased private investment can municipalities begin to address the more than half-trillion dollars in awaiting projects.
NUCA is grateful for the work of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leadership to shepherd this long-awaited legislation through the Senate. Our industry extends a special thanks to Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito, and subcommittee Chairman Duckworth and Ranking Member Lummis for their support and enthusiasm. Clean water and sanitary wastewater requirements are universal and bipartisan.
Passage of increased water system infrastructure investment has been a long-standing legislative goal of NUCA. The bill authorizing $35 billion for water projects, including $14.7 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $14.7 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) over five years. This is a significant increase from prior appropriations for these funds, and the additional resources will be used rebuild and renew water infrastructure systems around the nation that are obsolete or deficient.
NUCA has advocated for and supported this process from the very beginning, and the passage of this Senate bill is the biggest increase in funding our industry has seen in years. It is a significant milestone in the effort to reauthorize water funding that has been moving forward across several Congressional sessions.
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which has been appropriated for but never reauthorized since its establishment in 1987, is the primary funding mechanism for water quality projects.
The bill’s drinking water section reauthorizes a drinking water resilience grant program, helps replace obsolete lead service lines in schools, and supports other federal drinking water grant programs.
This legislation shows that water infrastructure investment is a bipartisan issue, and it can serve as an important foundation for any broader infrastructure package. The legislation passed out of the Senate’s infrastructure committee earlier this year on a 20-0 vote.
The bill now goes to the U.S. House for action. It is hopeful the House will take quick action on this legislation and negotiate a final agreement with the Senate by early summer.
This bipartisan bill is a long-overdue investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will create thousands of new jobs and help ensure millions of Americans have access to clean and healthy drinking water and safe, sanitary wastewater systems – and NUCA will be a key player in getting it over the finish line and across the President’s desk.
A comprehensive list of the utility construction industry’s 2021 legislative infrastructure priorities can be reviewed online at www.nuca.com, under Media/Comment Letters, released March 3, 2021