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Congress Passes Water Infrastructure Bill

  • 15 December 2016
  • scalera

The Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act, formerly known as WRDA, passed the House earlier last week 360-61 and then the Senate at 1am Saturday morning by a vote of 78-21. The bill now heads to the President's desk for his signature. This legislation authorizes nearly $10 billion in federal investment. Below is a list of provisions included that are beneficial to Rural Water: 

WIIN Act Provisions

  • Includes new public notice requirements for exceedances of the lead action level and for distribution of independently conducted lead tap samples results
  • Includes a provision intended to limit competition between the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (WIFIA) program and the SRFs
  • Provides new assistance ($60 million annually for 5 years) for small and disadvantaged communities to meet Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act mandates
  • Provides new funding ($10 million annually for 5 years) to advance water infrastructure research and the use of innovative water  technologies
  • Provides critical resources ($60 million annually for 5 years) to replace lead drinking water infrastructure in communities and schools
  • Provides critical funding ($100 million) for drinking water infrastructure emergencies identified by the President
  • Includes a provision to allow tribal organizations' interests to borrow the rural water EPA technical assistance provision that requires EPA to fund the technical assistance that the Indian tribes "find to be the most beneficial and effective’’ This should be helpful for the return of rural water EPA technical assistance if the tribal organizations are successful in having funds appropriated specially for this new authorization.

Provisions in the original Senate passed WRDA bill in September that were dropped during final negotiations:

  • Clean Water Act Technical Assistance authorization modeled on the existing Safe Drinking Water Act authorization
  • A provision fixing the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to allow technical assistance to be funded by the states administering the revolving funds
  • Modifications to federal policy for determining household ability to pay for water rate increases.
  • A one-time $20 million in grants for small and disadvantaged communities

This compromise legislation, which was years in the making, is a victory for Rural Water and provides opportunity for small and rural communities to meet the requirements of federal mandates.