Home\Advocacy\Funding for Nationwide Water Recycling Program included in FY2024 Budget Request

Funding for Nationwide Water Recycling Program included in FY2024 Budget Request

Date: March 13, 2023

WateReuse Association is pleased to announce that the Biden Administration requested full and first-time funding for the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program earlier this month. When funded, the program will be the first nationwide water recycling program. WateReuse held multiple meetings with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the Administration to include funding for the program in its FY24 budget request.

Through the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, EPA will provide competitive grants to state, interstate, and intrastate water resource development agencies to engineer, design, construct, and test alternative water source systems, including water recycling systems. WateReuse successfully led the push to reauthorize the program in the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA). The IIJA authorizes Congress to appropriate up to $25 million per year for the program.

“With growing water quality and water supply challenges around the country, Congress and the Administration must invest more deliberately in programs dedicated to helping communities build resilient water systems,” said Patricia Sinicropi, WateReuse Association’s Executive Director. “We applaud the Administration for its commitment to standing up the first nationwide program dedicated to developing sustainable alternative water sources.”

As is typical in the annual budget request, the Administration is not seeking discretionary funding for the Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBR) Title XVI Water Reuse Grants Program; nor is it requesting discretionary funding for the Desalination and Water Purification Grants Program. Instead, the budget highlights direct spending that is provided for these programs through the IIJA. WateReuse believes that maintaining annual discretionary appropriations for USBR’s water reuse programs is important, given that IIJA funding expires in 2026, and will therefore be advocating for additional appropriations in FY 2024. The budget request includes level funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs, and $80.4 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program, an increase of roughly $5 million over FY 2023 enacted funding.

The President’s budget request is the first step in the annual appropriations process. Congress will now begin to consider the President’s budget request as it drafts appropriations bills for FY 2024. WateReuse expects to see proposed spending bills later this spring, and will be working closely with congressional champions, appropriators, and WateReuse members to ensure that funding for the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program is included.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 40 U.S. states experienced moderate drought or worse in 2022. Droughts brought wildfires, heat waves, severely depleted water sources, and reduced crop production across the entire United States. In the West, conditions reached their driest point in 1,200 years; and in parts of Pennsylvania, Illinois, New England, and other regions across the country, communities faced significant and even extreme drought conditions. At the same time, major storm events continue to increase in both severity and frequency. The Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program will help communities wholistically manage stormwater, supply constraints, and water quality challenges.

Investments in water recycling ensure reliable and resilient community water supplies, support sustainable economic development, and help protect our rivers, lakes, streams, aquifers, and wetlands. By investing in federal water recycling programs now, Congress can give communities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico the tools and resources they need to prepare for and manage the impacts of the climate crisis, including drought, aquifer depletion, flooding, and land subsidence.

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