Congress Passes Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Including Historic Investments in Water Recycling, New Guide Available
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which invests $1 billion over five years in water recycling programs for the Western United States. This is an historic investment in water recycling, which until now has received roughly $65 million per year through the Bureau of Reclamation. The bill also directs the Administration to establish a federal Interagency Working Group on Water Reuse, which will break down silos, leverage resources throughout the federal family, and facilitate stakeholder engagement on water recycling.
The WateReuse Association worked closely with congressional champions over many months to secure these provisions. We extend our particular thanks to Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) along with Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) for their tireless efforts.
Within the $1 billion for Western water recycling is $550 million for the Title XVI Water Reuse Grants Program and $450 million for a new competitive grant program for large-scale water recycling projects. Both programs will be administered by the Bureau of Reclamation.
With enactment of this package, Congress also recognized that communities throughout the nation are making investments in water recycling by authorizing the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, the first nationwide grant program to support investments in water recycling. This program is on target to receive funding through the Build Back Better Act.
To help our members navigate the Act and the programs included therein, WateReuse created a new Guide to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for communities and water reuse practitioners. The guide includes detailed information about what is in the bill and how WateReuse members can access these new resources and tools.
The Build Back Better Act
As noted above, though the Infrastructure and Jobs Act invests in water recycling for western states, the Build Back Better Act (also known as the budget reconciliation package) invests $125 million in the only nationwide water recycling program, the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program. The program will expand access to water recycling tools and resources nationwide. Senators Carper, Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Alex Padilla (D-CA) along with Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) played key roles in securing funding for this program in the package.
Through the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (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 worked closely with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and other congressional champions to secure this funding, and is urging that it be retained in the final reconciliation package as enacted.
Last night, the House voted on a rule to set up debate on the reconciliation package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has set a goal of voting on the bill during the week of November 15.
WateReuse Association Submits Comments on Federal Resiliency Plans
In September, a wide range of Federal Government departments and agencies published climate change adaptation and resiliency plans and posted a 30-day solicitation for public comment. In response, WateReuse developed recommendations for how the Administration and each individual agency can support and utilize water recycling to build climate resiliency both within their own operations and facilities, and across the country. WateReuse will be reaching out to the Administration to further discuss these recommendations and urge their adoption. To read our full comments, click here.
EPA Hiring Economist to Work with Assistant Administrator
The Office of Water for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hiring a Supervisory Economist to direct the Water Economics Center. This position will work closely with Office of Water’s Assistant Administrator, Radhika Fox, on broad areas of environmental economics. Apply here.
State Updates and Member Profiles
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The Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority serves over 23,000 water customers and more than 6,000 sewer customers in northern Georgia.
AZ: Recycled Water Replenishes Santa Cruz River
Tucson Water released recycled water into the Santa Cruz River as part of the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project. This release of water from the Tucson Airport Remediation Project supports native wetland restoration as well as aquifer replenishment. Read more.
CA: Web-Based Tool Available to Evaluate Recycled Water’s Impact on River System
The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project released the Los Angeles River Environmental Flows Dashboard for use in establishing and evaluating flow criteria. This tool enables managers to examine the impacts of expected increases in recycled water on the ecological and recreational benefits. Read more.
ID: Boise Votes to Approve Water Recycling Bond
The city of Boise voted to authorize the water renewal bond which will allow for stable rate increases to implement the Water Renewal Utility Plan. This plan includes the creation of a new recycled water program to promote the sustainable reuse of water. Read more.
WateReuse Member Resources and Benefits
Profiles in Reuse Flyers on Agricultural, Industrial, and Potable Reuse
Do you need plain-language handouts to explain water reuse to ratepayers, policymakers, elected officials, or other stakeholders? The WateReuse Profiles in Reuse series includes flyers on industrial reuse, agricultural reuse, and potable reuse that introduce the concept of water reuse and explain some of the ways that water recycling contributes to a resilient water supply. The flyers are easy-to-understand communications tools that can easily be shared. Learn more.
Interactive Map on State Water Reuse Policies and Regulations
Do you need information about water reuse policies and regulations from across the United States? Visit the state policy map on our website to find summaries of the regulatory landscape in key states, as well as links to specific polices and regulations. Clicking on a particular state opens a pop-up window with detailed information about the state. WateReuse invites members to help us fill in gaps in knowledge using the comment box provided on the page. The map is updated periodically as new information is received and/or states update their regulations. View the state policy map here.
Water Reuse Conferences, Webcasts, and Events
Webcast: Advancing Reuse in Distributed Systems
Global Water Works
November 9, 2021
11 am PT | 2 pm ET
This webcast will look at how water reuse builds resilience in decentralized water systems. Internationally recognized speakers will discuss best practices and property-scale success stories. Register here.
Webcast: Agricultural Reuse in California: Moving to the Next Level
November 10, 2021
11 am PT | 2 pm ET (1 hour)
Join WateReuse California’s Agriculture Reuse committee to discuss the benefits of agriculture reuse, programs and case-studies, regulations, and an outlook for the future. Register here.
Webcast: Keys to Success: Water Recycling in Small and Disadvantaged Communities
November 15, 2021
9am PT | 12 pm ET (1 hour)
This free training webinar is presented to support water managers in small, resource-limited communities. The training will focus on keys for successful development and implementation of water reuse projects and is a part of Water Reuse Action Plan Action 8.5: Engagement with Disadvantaged and Rural Communities on Water Reuse. Register here.
Webcast: Permitting Water Innovation: Improving Permitting Processes to Support New Water Management Technologies and Strategies
November 17, 2021
9 am PT | 12 pm ET (2 hours)
This free webinar will present findings and insights from recent research, water reuse actions, and specific case studies to explore how water permitting affects our ability to implement water recycling, energy recovery, nature-based solutions, and other innovative water management approaches. Register here.
Water Utility Resilience Forum
December 13-15, 2021
The Water Utility Resilience Forum will advance the thinking on how utilities can be resilient and sustainable now and for the next one hundred years. Featuring insights from water sector leaders and subject-matter experts, the Forum will be a rich dialogue on what utilities are doing today to be resilient and what a resilient future looks like. Register here.
11 am ET | 8 am PT (1 hour)
WateReuse Members and Florida Water Reuse Week Registrants: Free; Others: $49
Registrants for Florida Water Reuse Week will receive a discount code for free webcast registration
Florida reuses 34 percent of its wastewater compared to the national average of about 7 percent. A recent statewide survey showed that 75 percent of Floridians are familiar with the concept of using reclaimed water for irrigation, industrial uses, and other non-drinking purposes. However, as the state is undergoing record-setting growth and rulemaking for direct potable reuse, additional education and outreach is needed to gain public acceptance. Water professionals and utilities from across the state are working collaboratively through WateReuse Florida to develop and implement consistent messaging on how reuse will safely supply Florida’s future. As Florida celebrates Water Reuse Week May 15-21, join us to hear about the latest education and outreach efforts happening to support traditional and potable reuse at the local and state level.
- Robyn Felix, Communications & Board Services Bureau Chief, Southwest Florida Water Management District
- Tamara Richardson, P.E., Director of Polk County Utilities
Shea Dunifon, Education Coordinator, Pinellas County Utilities, Florida
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