The American Water Works Association today applauded the signing of “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018,” lauding it as an important step forward in the nation’s efforts to renew its aging water infrastructure.
The legislation authorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for two more years and removes its pilot designation, a key milestone for the federal loan program.
“The reauthorization of WIFIA at $50 million — and the fact that it is no longer a ‘pilot’ — is a significant milestone for the program and a great victory for the entire water sector,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “AWWA’s members can be proud of their work to elevate the issue of water infrastructure renewal, craft a workable solution, and then refine and fund it.”
The legislation, also known as S. 3021, reauthorizes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for the first time since 2003. The three-year authorization more than doubles the loan program’s authorized spending to $1.95 billion by the third year.
AWWA’s 2012 Buried No Longer report found that an additional $1 billion would be required over a 25-year period to repair and expand the U.S. water infrastructure. WIFIA provides low interest federal loans for large water infrastructure projects.
America’s Water Infrastructure Act is a combination of regular, two-year water resources development legislation and a Safe Drinking Water Act bill that the House produced. AWWA provided substantial input, including advocating for stronger requirements for notifying downstream water utilities of chemical spills and updating security and resiliency provisions to reflect an all-hazards approach. The legislation establishes a Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability Program to award grants to increase resilience to natural hazards.
“We think the legislation strikes an important balance in applying an all-hazards approach to evaluating risk and resilience in the water sector,” said AWWA Federal Relations Manager Kevin Morley, who oversees the Association’s security and emergency preparedness work. “We believe that many of the resources AWWA has developed will aid utilities in meeting these new requirements.”
Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 51,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.