| U.S. passage of massive infrastructure bill a boon for water and wastewater
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U.S. passage of massive infrastructure bill a boon for water and wastewater

U.S. President Biden signed into law the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 15, opening a $55 billion spigot to reauthorize several federal drinking water programs, appropriate expanded funding for water infrastructure and other programs, and commit $15 billion for lead service line replacement.

Greg Kail & Tommy Holmes discuss U.S. infrastructure bill passageAWWA members advocated for the legislation through e-mails and calls to their members of Congress urging action on water infrastructure. The act, which was the subject of intense, bi-partisan negotiations, was passed by the Senate last August and the House of Representatives on Nov. 5.  

“Now comes the challenge of implementing the programs in the bill,” said Tommy Holmes, legislative affairs director with the American Water Works Association.

“Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing guidance and policies for dispersing the funds,” he added. “In addition, a lot of the money will then be distributed through the state revolving loan fund (SRF) program, so each state agency will have to accept and process applications. In other words, money will not immediately flow from Washington.”

AWWA issued a statement thanking Congress and the president for their support of water infrastructure. Here are some highlights: 
Drinking Water Authorizations
(Note that authorization is an initial step; the actual release of funds requires appropriations legislation, which is also in this bill, listed after this section):

  • $75 million for technical assistance and grants for emergencies affecting public water systems, including natural hazards and cybersecurity
  • $14.65 billion for the drinking water SRF program for fiscal years 2022-2026
  • Applicants for loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program will only need to provide one credit rating instead of two, as is currently required
  • EPA must develop a WIFIA outreach plan for small and rural communities
  • $510 million in assistance for small and disadvantaged communities
  • $500 million for reducing lead in drinking water by removing lead service lines and other relevant activities, with an emphasis on assisting disadvantaged communities
  • $250 million to improve operational sustainability of small water systems
  • $250 million for the mid-size and large drinking water system resilience and sustainability program
  • A needs assessment for a nationwide low-income water bill assistance program
  • 40 pilot projects to provide financial assistance to low-income water customers
  • $200 million for lead testing and remediation in schools
  • $50 million for a study assessing emerging technologies that could address cybersecurity and water monitoring issues and a grant program to deploy technologies

Drinking Water Appropriations

  • $50 million annually for WIFIA programs for FY2022-2026
  • $11.713 billion for the drinking water SRF; 49% to be in the form of grants or loans with principal forgiveness; only 10% state match required in FY2022 and FY2023 (the wastewater SRF program got an equal amount)
  • $15 billion for lead service line replacement, with 49% to be in the form of grants or loans with principal forgiveness; no state match required; $3 billion annually for FY2022-2026
  • $4 billion to be channeled through the drinking water SRF for emerging contaminants, all in the form of grants or principal forgiveness
  • $5 billion to deal with emerging contaminants in economically distressed communities
  • $1.126 billion annually in additional funding for the drinking water SRF through FY2026
  • $1.6 billion annually in additional funding for the wastewater SRF through FY2026


  • EPA and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are to identify public water systems, that if degraded or rendered inoperable, would lead to significant impacts on the public’s health and safety
  • EPA and CISA are to develop a technical cybersecurity support plan for public water systems
  • The two agencies are to submit to Congress a list of public water systems needing technical support

Buy America, Build America

  • Extends “Buy American” requirements to include not only steel and iron products, but also “manufactured products” and “construction materials”
  • “Produced” in the United States means a product was manufactured in the U.S., and the cost of its components that are mined, produced or manufactured in the U.S. is greater than 55% of the total cost of the manufactured product
  • Waivers may be granted if the iron, steel or manufactured product is not produced in the U.S. 

A more detailed description is available on the AWWA website.