| Infrastructure, lead, PFAS highlighted during AWWA congressional “Fly-In”
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Infrastructure, lead, PFAS highlighted during AWWA congressional “Fly-In”

As the U.S. Congress considers critically important legislation impacting water, more than 240 delegates of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) will meet virtually with their representatives and senators this month to advocate for funding to improve infrastructure, remove lead service lines and treat per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS).

U.S. CapitolAWWA’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C., in coordination with AWWA’s sections and Water Utility Council (WUC), hosts an annual spring “Water Matters! Fly-In” to enable AWWA members to speak with their congressional offices about water policy and legislation. This year’s meetings are virtual due to the pandemic and will be held April 19-30.

“The 2021 Fly-In is particularly important because of the changes in the U.S. presidential administration and Congressional leadership, as well as the heightened public appreciation for safe and reliable water during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tommy Holmes (pictured below), AWWA’s senior manager of legislative affairs.  

Tommy Holmes“AWWA, through its members and the WUC, ensures that the water sector’s knowledge and expertise is included throughout the process of determining water policy, and the Fly-In is a great opportunity to highlight our priorities with elected officials,” he added.

To prepare delegates for the upcoming meetings, the government affairs staff conducted a webinar for delegates on how to schedule and conduct the virtual meetings. They also developed a summary of key actions that AWWA supports to invest in the nation’s water infrastructure, which include:

  • Reauthorize the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) for an additional five years. AWWA requests that Congress double the SRF authorization to $2.4 billion and increase WIFIA funding beyond the current level of $50 million to $60 million.
  • Authorize and fund federal programs to help utilities reduce exposure to lead in drinking water and remove all lead service lines over time. This includes school and childcare lead testing, school drinking water fountain replacements and grants for lead reduction projects in communities with more than 30% of lead service lines.
  • Provide funding for additional PFAS health effects research, treatment for existing PFAS in drinking water sources, and prevention of new PFAS being introduced into the environment.
  • Reinstate a tax exemption for advanced refunding of municipal bonds, which allows state and local governments to restructure existing debt at lower interest rates.

The government affairs staff will host a debriefing webinar with delegates in May to discuss outcomes of the meetings.

In addition to the Fly-In, AWWA and other partners in the water sector will participate in Water Week April 25-May 1. This annual water policy event provides a forum for grassroots activism on behalf of the water community.