On June 9, 2021, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, with bipartisan support, passed the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 (or H.R. 1915). This bill will invest $50 billion over the next five years to address wastewater infrastructure needs throughout the country, including $40 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund—a program has not received Congressional reauthorization since 1987. Additionally, the bill would create thousands of jobs in the construction and wastewater sectors, reduce the cost of constructing and maintaining that infrastructure, accelerate efforts to increase the resiliency of wastewater infrastructure, promote energy efficiency and water efficiency, reduce the potential long-term operation and maintenance costs of publicly-owned sewage treatment plants, and clarify requirements that American-made iron and steel be used for construction of wastewater infrastructure funded under the Clean Water Act, regardless of whether it is funded through the Clean Water SRF or other Clean Water infrastructure grant programs. If passed into law, this bill will expand AIS requirements beyond the CWSRF, extending them to Federally funded projects authorized by the bill addressing:

 

  • watershed and resiliency projects
  • sewer overflow and stormwater reuse municipal grants
  • pilot programs for alternative water sources
  • household wastewater grants made available through municipalities or qualified non-profit organization (e.g., decentralized treatment)
  • projects funded via a new program established by the bill to provide municipalities grants for smart wastewater infrastructure (e.g., intelligent sewage or stormwater collection systems)
  • projects similar to the above funded by the Indian Health Service

 

Funding levels specified in the bill include:

 

  • $40 billion allocated for the CWSRF (over five years)
  • $2 billion for projects to capture, treat, or reuse sewer overflows or stormwater
  • $2.5 billion for state water pollution control programs
  • $1 billion for clean water pilot programs and projects for climate resiliency
  • $1 billion for alternative water source and water recycling projects to augment existing water supplies
  • $1 billion in municipal grants to treat PFAS and other emerging contaminants
  • $2.5 billion for Tribal wastewater infrastructure assistance
  • A total of $1 billion for programs to provide for rural and Tribal technical assistance, for the repair and replacement of failed septic systems and cesspools, and for investment in smart water technologies

 

Many varied associations have expressed support for this bill including the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO), and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Additionally, it isn’t surprising to see associations representing the steel industry such as the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and Municipal Castings Association (MCA) support the bill. AISI noted the following in a March 19, 2021 letter submitted to Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-NJ) and Grace Napolitano (D-TX), “We also appreciate that the bill will ensure that American-made iron and steel products will continue to be procured through the CWSRF and will now be required to be used by the Federally funded sewer overflow and stormwater grant, alternative water source, watershed and Indian Health programs reauthorized in the bill. AISI agrees that taxpayer-funded projects should utilize only domestically and environmentally superior melted and poured steel products to ensure that the full benefit of such investment is realized in the domestic economy”. The full text of the bill is available HERE. A companion Fact Sheet for the bill is available HERE.