In addition to the above advocacy efforts, WWEMA joined with many of the same water Associations referenced above in signing a May 19, 2021 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives leadership. In addition to emphasizing strong support for water infrastructure investment, the letter also raised concerns about any new “Buy American” domestic content mandate relating to the use of ‘manufactured products’ in the water and wastewater sector. It stated that “imposing new Buy American mandates on complex manufactured products would limit the effectiveness of infrastructure funds and curtail the ability to use the best available technologies to solve complex water challenges”. Specifically, the letter cites concerns with expanding this mandate beyond the current American Iron and Steel (AIS) requirements that apply to the EPA’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRFs and CWSRFs) and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.
The letter notes, while not ideal, the industry has adapted to these requirements or has been able to obtain waivers as needed. The letter cites the cost implications of Buy American policies, particularly as utilities struggle to respond to ever-increasing complex and stringent regulatory requirements requiring more sophisticated technology. The letter states such policies have the potential to limit the adoption of new and more effective technologies to only those produced in the U.S. The letter goes on to cite the challenges these policies present for water utilities and the potential for supply disruptions, expensive system re-designs, project delays, and ultimately financial impact on water affordability. The letter emphasized that investment in water infrastructure in general is an investment in America and American jobs. A copy of the letter is available HERE.