Senate passes Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

August 11, 2021

The U.S. Senate voted 69-30 on August 10 to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

This $1.2 trillion infrastructure package provides funding for the nation’s infrastructure and includes almost $55 billion in water infrastructure, including $10 billion for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) remediation efforts.

The bipartisan bill, which has been in negotiation for months, is the largest injection of funds into the nation’s infrastructure in over two decades. The bill will now be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives where it will likely be voted on along with the House and Senate Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget proposal.

If signed into to law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide a significant increase to the country’s water infrastructure. The bill increases funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, public assistance to connect communities to publicly owned water systems, stormwater planning and development training, national lead pipe replacement, and managed aquifer recharge projects.

The most significant groundwater-specific provisions in the bill include the following.

  • Section 11518 Permeable Pavements Study directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to gather information and perform research on the effects of permeable pavements on flood control, and develop long-term performance and cost information.
  • Section 11520 Study on Stormwater Best Management Practices directs the DOT and the U.S. Environmental Agency to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to study pollutant loads from highways and pedestrian facilities, and recommend potential stormwater management and total maximum daily load compliance strategies. The EPA is to issue a report on best management practices to reflect new information and advancements in stormwater management within one year and update the report every five years.
  • Section 40342 Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land provides for five clean energy demonstration projects (two solar and three other technologies including geothermal) on mine land in distressed areas addressing employment and reduction of greenhouse gases.
  • Section 40902 Water Storage, Groundwater Storage and Conveyance Projects directs the Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct feasibility studies for water storage, groundwater storage, and conveyance projects, and specifies a project approval process.
  • Section 40903 Small Water Storage and Groundwater Storage Projects provides through the DOI a competitive grant program for Reclamation states, plus Alaska and Hawaii, for small water storage and groundwater storage projects.
  • Section 40905 Competitive Grant Program for Large-Scale Water Recycling and Reuse Program provides through the DOI a competitive grant program for Reclamation states for large-scale water recycling and reuse projects based on feasibility studies and 25 percent federal cost share.
  • Section 40910 Federal Assistance for Groundwater Recharge, Aquifer Storage, and Water Source Substitution Projects directs the DOI to offer technical and financial assistance and enter into agreements for groundwater recharge projects, aquifer storage and recovery projects, or water source substitution projects on a cost sharing basis.
  • Section 50104 Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities provides grants to states to assist in the purchase of point-of-entry or point-of-use filters and filtration systems, replacement of lead service lines and other sources of lead in drinking water, and the costs associated with connecting a household to a public water system through grants to the public water system or a nonprofit organization to provide the financial assistance based on information required by the EPA administrator for the voluntary connection and report to Congress on the connection program.
  • Section 50105 Reducing Lead in Drinking Water provides through the EPA financial assistance to public water systems and nonprofit organizations to replace lead service lines with priority for disadvantaged communities, low-income homeowners, and property owners of housing for low-income renters; it also establishes a pilot program to provide grants to public water systems and nonprofit organizations to carry out lead reduction projects and inventory lead.

The $10 billion to help address PFAS contamination is split through three programs:

  • $5 billion through the EPA’s Assistance to Small and Disadvantaged Communities Program and State Response to Contaminants program to address emerging contaminants
  • $4 billion through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for emerging contaminants with a focus on PFAS
  • $1 billion through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to address emerging contaminants.

While NGWA has long supported many aspects of the infrastructure legislation, including increased funding for PFAS remediation and aquifer recharge projects, there is still significant concern of increased “mandatory hook-up” efforts tied to the funding of connecting small communities to public water systems.

Earlier this year, NGWA urged Congress to better utilize private water wells in future infrastructure legislation. Click here to read more.

Click here to learn more about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.