President to sign massive infrastructure bill With the U.S. House of Representatives voting its approval of H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act , on Nov. 5, the long-awaited legislation is ready for President Biden’s signature to become law. A signing ceremony is scheduled for Monday. For the water sector, this act reauthorizes several existing drinking water programs, appropriates expanded funding for water infrastructure and other programs, and commits $15 billion for lead service line replacement. Now comes the challenge of implementing the programs in the bill. Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have to develop guidance and policies for dispersing the funds, and since a lot of the money is then to be distributed via each state’s state revolving loan fund (SRF) program, those agencies will have to accept and process applications. In other words, money will not immediately flow from Washington. However, EPA water staff told AWWA staff this week that since the Senate passed this bill last summer, they have been preparing to administer programs within H.R. 3684. 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 annually in additional funding for the drinking water SRF through FY2026 $1.6 billion annually in additional funding for the wastewater SRF through FY2026 Cybersecurity 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. in sufficient and reasonably available quantities or of “satisfactory” quality We want to hear from you Every year, AWWA surveys its members to get their perceptions of the water sector and track significant trends. The survey, which closes Nov. 30, offers a peek at the challenges and opportunities water workers face in providing clean, safe drinking water. The anonymous State of the Water Industry survey should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. Its results will be reported in aggregate only. All questions are optional, and any question may be skipped. As a thank you for your time, we are raffling off gift cards. Entering the raffle is voluntary and your entry will not be linked to your survey responses. EPA announces three more WIFIA loans EPA has announced the completion of three more loans under the WIFIA program: A $224 million loan to the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation to purify wastewater and replenish the San Fernando Basin to bolster groundwater resources in this drought-stressed region. The bureau will purify 15.5 million gallons of wastewater daily, which will be used to replenish the San Fernando Basin and its aquifers. EPA estimated the loan will save Los Angeles approximately $81 million in interest costs. Project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 1,400 jobs. A $20 million loan to the city of Evanston, Ill., to upgrade aging infrastructure that brings water from Lake Michigan to the city’s drinking water treatment plant. This project will replace a 110-year-old intake with modern infrastructure to ensure sufficient drinking water quantity and quality for decades. The new water intake will be buried under the lakebed so that it’s protected from impacts of lake currents and is sized to account for fluctuating lake levels, making the system more resilient to the impacts of climate change on Lake Michigan. EPA estimates the loan will save the city $4.7 million in interest costs and create 133 jobs. A $13.8 million loan to the Water Authority of Great Neck North, N.Y., to help finance infrastructure upgrades that will modernize its water treatment plant to better address potential contaminants and protect public health. The projects included in the loan will support installation of treatment systems for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-dioxane treatment for three of the authority’s wells, plus water main upgrades and fire protection improvements along two main corridors of the service area. EPA estimates that using WIFIA will save the authority $1.9 million in finance costs, and the project will create 224 jobs. SAB PFAS Review Panel virtual meetings announced The Science Advisory Board (SAB) at EPA announced it will conduct four virtual public meetings of its review panel for PFAS beginning Dec. 16. The panel is tasked with reviewing the following: Proposed approaches to the derivation of a draft maximum contaminant level goal for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Analysis of cardiovascular disease risk reduction as a result of PFOA and PFOS exposure in drinking water. Draft framework for estimating non-cancer health risk associated with mixtures of PFAS. The subsequent three meetings will be held Jan. 4, 6 and 7. AWWA intends to review these materials and develop oral and written statements for EPA and the panel’s consideration. EPA seeks NDWAC advice on M/DBPs rule revisions EPA published a formal request on Thursday that its National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) provide the agency advice and recommendations on key issues related to the potential revisions for microbials and disinfection byproducts (M/DBPs) rules. EPA is seeking consensus recommendations from the NDWAC and plans to use these to inform the development of potential revisions. AWWA and several other associations submitted a request to EPA earlier this year for a negotiated rulemaking. This announcement falls short of that request but is still expected to provide for some meaningful public discussion on these issues. The agency is seeking nomination of qualified individuals to serve on the working group, which is expected to be active from next spring through mid-2023. While EPA will consider all nominees, it is seeking those with demonstrated experience in drinking water issues and M/DBP rules. Final LCR Revisions action at OMB for review Earlier this week EPA sent a rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the final Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) revisions for “proposed delay in the effective and compliance dates.” OMB review is the final step before the rule’s publication. Following Executive Order 13990 from President Biden early this year, the effective date of the rule and compliance dates have been extended to Dec. 16, 2021, and Sept. 16, 2024, respectively. Over the past six months, EPA has hosted roundtable meetings with stakeholders to hear input on the revised LCR and potential changes. EPA is expected to announce its path forward by Dec. 16. That decision will include whether EPA intends to modify the rule, whether additional time will be necessary for systems to comply and what process by which to make those changes.