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Senate Drafts of 2020 Water Infrastructure Bills Include Major Wins for Water Recycling

Date: April 21, 2020

On April 21, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee released two pieces of water infrastructure legislation—the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020.

Every two years, Congress passes a major water infrastructure bill known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The two bills released by the EPW Committee today are intended to form the 2020 WRDA in the months ahead; due to jurisdictional issues, the Committee is beginning this year’s process by separating drinking water policies from clean water policies.

Among other WateReuse priorities, the Senate bills include:

  • $25 million per year for the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program;
  • A stair-step up to $3 billion in FY 2024 for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program;
  • Reauthorization and expansion of the Drinking Water Infrastructure Risk and Resiliency Program, and the creation of a companion program for clean water systems; and
  • Reauthorization of the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Grant Program.

The WateReuse Association commends Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) for their leadership in developing the legislation, and for including important water reuse provisions. We extend particular thanks to Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for championing the reauthorization of the Alternative Water Source Grants Program.

Overall, the draft of AWIA includes approximately $17 billion in new federal authorizations, while the draft Drinking Water Infrastructure Act authorizes approximately $2.5 billion in new spending.

The Senate drafts are the first step in this year’s WRDA cycle. WateReuse will submit formal comments to the Committee on the bills, and will continue to urge improvements moving forward. We expect the Committee to debate and pass the bills as early as next month. At the same time, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has started to develop a draft of their own, and is likely to release it in the coming weeks.

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