Why the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) is a Win For Water
The passing of the bipartisan infrastructure package will be instrumental in helping water systems fund LCR compliance projects and meet new LCR requirements.
Posted on November 16, 2021 Marcus Hagberg
On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684).
This $1+ trillion infrastructure law includes unprecedented investments in clean drinking water over the next 5 years, which will help protect public health for generations. The extent and types of clean drinking water investments made as a part of this law will hopefully serve as a blueprint for future drinking water investments, helping to further address drinking water infrastructure funding needs.
According to an official statement from the White House: “The legislation’s $55 billion investment in clean drinking water represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS. It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.”
The Plan for Safer Drinking Water
The clean drinking water investments outlined in the infrastructure bill are holistic by design and intended to address the needs of water systems and the communities they serve. The main programmatic themes across the clean drinking water programs include:
- Lead service line inventorying & replacement
- Affordability & Accessibility
- Emerging contaminants
- Emerging technologies
- Utility resilience
The EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), the financial assistance program in coordination with States to help water systems protect public health through safe drinking water, has been reauthorized at significant levels:
- $14.65 billion in programmatic funding
Targeted investments to remediate known and emerging contaminants in drinking water — specifically, lead and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — are further signals that protecting public health remains the program’s top priority:
- $15 billion supplemental funding specifically for lead service line replacement
- $4 billion earmarked for remediation of emerging contaminants (e.g., PFAS)
To scale these programs, water systems are incentivized to adopt various advanced technologies. It is envisioned that these advanced technologies can help water systems by improving:
- data management
- system resilience, and
- cybersecurity, among other benefits.
How Funds Will be Distributed
Over the next five years, there will be sustained investments from the Federal government in clean drinking water infrastructure space; these investments are an opportunity for water systems to both address their immediate needs and work toward their long-term goals.
Water systems are well-positioned to secure these investments as a sizable portion of the available funding is being funneled through familiar, accessible, and proven water funding vehicles, such as Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and Clean Water State Revolving Funds.
Furthermore, while the EPA is the administrator of the funds, the funding eligibility criteria — and awardees — are determined by each State’s respective DWSRF. As such, water systems first step should be to review their respective State’s SRF State profile.
While not directly connected, the timing of the availability of increased funding does coincide with the proposed effective and enforcement timelines for the Lead & Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR).
For example, the LCRR will require water systems to compile and manage a lead service line inventory (LSLI), including both the public and private sides of the line, by 2024; much of the increased funding can be used to meet the inventory requirements.
This funding will be instrumental in helping water systems fund LCRR compliance projects and meet LCRR requirements.
Using Infrastructure Funding to Develop Your LSLI
The passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is very good news for water systems, particularly those serving smaller populations (<100,000 persons) and disadvantaged communities. To ensure your system fully leverages the available funding a foundational project to start today is the development of your LSLI.
Our biggest takeaway from the infrastructure law is that water systems now have available funding to kickstart the development of your LSLI to meet LCRR requirements. The $15 billion supplemental funding for lead service line replacements via DWSRF over the next five years can be used for actual replacement activities as well as associated activities, such as identification, planning, and design.
From day one, 120Water was built on a foundation of getting the lead out, and we’ve built our software and services to align with the various grants and SRF requirements to ensure you get the funding you need. Our team of experts are here to help you navigate the news and get your plan in place.
Contact our team to get started.
To learn more about creating and validating your service line inventory in our how-to guide.