Clean water and drinking water assistance in the amount of $500 million is included in the latest COVID-19 stimulus package
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect changes to the passage of the stimulus package.
On March 11, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, The American Rescue Plan Act.
Among the provision of the American Rescue Plan Act are additional COVID-19 relief amounting to $500 million in assistance for clean and drinking water customers. Additional support for critical water and sewer investments is also included in the measure, according to a joint press release by NAWCA and AWMA.
President Biden signed the bill a day earlier than anticipated, reported The New York Times.
In a joint statement, Adam Krantz, CEO of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and Diane VanDe Hei, CEO of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies applauded the inclusion of funding for the water and wastewater industry.
“The public water sector is grateful to the U.S. Senate for including $500 million in additional assistance to low-income water customers in the American Rescue Plan Act,” the statement read. “This makes clear that Congress recognizes the critical role of public drinking water and clean water services and the increased strain many households are facing in paying their water bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn.”
Additionally, the relief package makes water and sewer infrastructure needs eligible to access $350 billion through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. The funding for low-income water assistance comes in addition to the initial $638 million provided in the December 2020 FY21 Consolidated Appropriations Act, reported NBC.
In addition to the funding for clean and drinking water assistance, the bill includes direct payments and child tax credits. It will also provide:
- $14 billion for vaccine distribution;
- $49 billion for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment; and
- $30 billion for public transit.