Congress has approved a sprawling bill to improve the nation’s ports, dams and harbors, protect against floods, restore shorelines and support other water-related projects. Signed by President Donald Trump, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 authorizes more than $6 billion in spending over 10 years for projects nationwide, including one to stem coastal erosion in Galveston, Texas and restore wetlands damaged by Hurricane Harvey last year.
The bill also would help improve harbors in Seattle, WA; Savannah, GA and San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as extend a federal program to improve drinking water quality in Flint, MI and other cities. The bill also sets up a new framework for large water projects run by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The changes are intended to increase local input and improve transparency.
In another (and to date, most definitive) victory for IAPMO and its like-minded industry partners dedicated to the long-term success of the program, President Trump signed S. 3021, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which includes strong language officially authorizing US EPA’s WaterSense® program in perpetuity. Passage of S. 3021 statutorily imbeds the WaterSense program into US law, shielding it from Executive action by requiring any future changes be made via an act of Congress. Previous victories merely secured extended funding year-to-year. The legislation passed the Senate by a 99-1 vote. Read more here.
NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CIC, hailed the legislation’s passage, calling it “a validation of the collective efforts made by NGWA volunteers to promote the importance of investing in groundwater.” Typically, WRDA legislation has a narrow focus on navigation, dams and levees, but after concerted efforts by NGWA and other organizations, the AWIA legislation includes a significant number of provisions affecting drinking water programs.
The Water Systems Council (WSC), the only national non-profit organization solely focused on household wells and water well systems, celebrated the new law as a major step toward providing all Americans with safe, clean drinking water. WRDA includes the WSC-supported Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act, which was introduced by US Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). The SRF WIN Act modernizes investment in water infrastructure by empowering states to invest in multiple water infrastructure projects.
The American Water Works Association applauded the signing, 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.