In conjunction with Water Week 2020, the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) has joined with related associations including, the American Water Works Association, the Water Environment Federation, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the US Water Alliance, and others in supporting water infrastructure investment and the related water policy principles outlined in America’s Water Infrastructure-Investing & Building for the Future. Water infrastructure remains a significantly underfunded need, with the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finding the federal share of the total U.S. water and wastewater investment currently below five percent—a much lower federal cost-share than other infrastructure sectors. WWEMA, along with the other allied Associations, calls for strong federal infrastructure investment not only to meet today’s needs but to meet the growing needs associated with emerging contaminants, resiliency, and support of innovation in areas such as water reuse. It is estimated that over the next 20 years, the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure will require $750 billion.
Water utility infrastructure is supported by approximately 1.7 million workers. Over the next decade, this workforce is expected to experience a retirement rate of approximately one-third. The exodus of these workers means there is a risk their technical knowledge base will also be exiting the industry. WWEMA calls on the federal government to support the sector to prevent a shortage of required skilled workers. Specifically, we call on the U.S. Congress to reauthorize and increase funding for the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grants Program, which was created under the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in 2018. With the initial $1 million provided in FY2020, the U.S. EPA is standing up the program to provide workforce development assistance to utilities and communities.
Additionally, WWEMA calls for increased funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF and DWSRF) Programs. Specifically, we call on the U.S. Congress to reauthorize and double funding for the CWSRF Program to $3.3 billion for FY2021. We also call for the DWSRF’s reauthorization and funding at an annual level not below its full FY2021 authorization of $1.95 billion. Other areas where WWEMA calls for congressional support include:
- Provide $20 million for the U.S. EPA National Priorities Water Research Grant Program in FY2021 for water research and technology development.
- Ensure that U.S. EPA updates its Affordability Guidance to better assess household affordability and community financial capacity.
- Reauthorize and provide increased funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program.
- Reauthorize and provide increased funding for the U.S. EPA Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal (“Section 221”) Grant Program.
- Ensure that local ratepayers and utilities do not bear the costs of remediating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
- Financial assistance via coronavirus aid packages to make utilities whole by providing for water services regardless of the ability to pay during the pandemic and assistance to mitigate lost revenues resulting from abrupt business and industry demand declines.
- Support the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Water & Wastewater Loan and Grant Program by providing $1.6 billion in loans and $600 million in grants in FY2021.
- Provide strong funding for state drinking water and clean water primacy agencies to implement the SDWA and CWA.