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Congress Introduces Clean Water State Revolving Fund Legislation

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) is a federal infrastructure program that provides low-interest loans to states – requiring a 20 percent state match – for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements.

Since 1987, the CWSRF has loaned $42 billion to 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, allowing states to leverage over $126 billion in wastewater infrastructure improvements. The CWSRF is the primary source of federal assistance for states and communities to construct, repair, and replace the nation’s network of wastewater and stormwater systems.

The nation’s wastewater and stormwater-treatment facilities provide a critical service in protecting public health and the environment. However, these infrastructure systems are aging and face a growing fund gap. ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gave the nation’s wastewater infrastructure a “D+,” and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that $271 billion will be needed for wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years. It is expected that 56 million new users will be connected to centralized wastewater treatment centers in the coming years, which will require the construction of 532 new systems by 2032.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said it supports robust legislation that invests in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and is endorsing the bipartisan Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019 (H.R. 1497).

This legislation was introduced by House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), along with Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Don Young (R-Alaska). This bill reauthorizes the CWSRF for $20 billion over five years, funds non-point and point source water-pollution-control programs, and creates pilot programs to promote stormwater best management practices and resiliency.

Also this week, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment held a hearing entitled “The Clean Water State Revolving Fund: How Federal Infrastructure Investment Can Help Communities Modernize Water Infrastructure and Address Affordability Challenges.”

ASCE submitted a Statement for the record outlining clean water infrastructure priorities. In his opening remarks, Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) called for an “all-hands-on-deck approach to reserve the decline of our nation’s infrastructure,” including searching for new funding sources, increasing public-private partnerships (P3s), improving federal regulations, focusing on innovative technologies, and EPA implementation of its integrated planning initiative.