This editorial letter originally appeared in WQP November/December 2021 issue as "Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act"
As of press time, the U.S. House of Representatives just passed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) and the legislation is heading to U.S. President Joe Biden’s desk. The $1.2 trillion bill includes $550 billion in new spending, with $55 billion allocated to drinking water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure funding. Relevant to WQP’s readership, it targets lead service line replacement ($15 billion) and improving small systems. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are also a hot issue included, with $10 billion earmarked for PFAS remediation efforts.
The bipartisan bill marks the largest injection of funds into the nation’s infrastructure in more than two decades, according to a National Ground Water Association press release on the subject. The long-debated bill covers a wide-range, and we’ll break down a few pieces here, but head to bit.ly/wqpIIJA for a more comprehensive breakdown of the impact on the water sector.
In addition to typical infrastructure like roads and bridges, the bill stretches across the drinking water, wastewater and storm water sectors. For drinking water, it provides $15 billion in loans and grants through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) for lead service line replacement, plus $11.7 billion over the next five years for the Clean Water SRF. For storm water, it provides $1.4 billion to the U.S. EPA Sewer Overflow & Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program over the next five years and $50 million for storm water infrastructure planning/development and implementation grants. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Notable for the water quality industry, the EPA’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Program would provide grants to states to assist in the purchase of point-of-use or point-of-entry filters and filtration systems under the bill.
While a lot of the language of the IIJA directed at the water sector focuses on injecting funds into the municipal sphere, it is likely the entire water industry will feel ripple effects from this increased federal and national focus on water. In addition to restoring crumbling infrastructure, much of the funds are earmarked towards building a water-resilient future. What does this look like and how can we play a role in that? If the IIJA is impacting you or you have thoughts on the subject, let us know at [email protected].