WEF Advises Officials on Stimulus Funding for Wastewater

Following last week’s passage of HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) by the House and Senate, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is advising local and state government officials on next steps for securing and distributing the newly awarded stimulus funds for wastewater projects. Signed yesterday by President Obama, the $787 billion package includes more than $7 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, according to the WEF press release.

"WEF is very pleased by the inclusion of funding for water infrastructure in the new stimulus bill,” said WEF President Rebecca West. “While water infrastructure typically goes unnoticed, its services and benefits are relied on by every American. This financial commitment from Congress shows a greater appreciation for the importance of clean water and the water sector’s contribution to public health, the environment, and our nation’s economic prosperity.”

Following a number of revisions, the final $787 billion package of tax cuts and government spending includes significant emergency funding for public works infrastructure, including over $7 billion for drinking water and wastewater projects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) clean water and drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) programs will receive $6 billion, including $4 billion for the clean water SRF and $2 billion for the drinking water SRF. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Water and Waste Disposal program will receive $1.38 billion for loans and grants.

“Although this investment is just a small portion of the estimated $500 billion funding shortfall for water infrastructure over the next 20 years, WEF believes this package will help bridge the funding gap and generate thousands of construction, manufacturing, and engineering jobs across the country,” said Tim Williams, WEF’s director of Government Affairs.

As next steps, WEF is encouraging local government officials to contact their state clean water or drinking water program or the state revolving fund program managers to make sure that any projects they would like to have funded are on the state’s priority list. Many states have already sent letters to municipalities outlining the process or contingency plans they are developing for awarding stimulus monies. Some states, such as California, have held regional workshops on the issue. WEF is also conducting a quick survey to help identify implementation issues and is encouraging state officials to contact their EPA regional office for assistance with distribution of the stimulus funds. WEF expects EPA to issue guidance or regulations for states to follow in the days to come.

For the past few months, WEF has been actively collaborating with other like-minded organizations to educate decision-makers about water infrastructure.

For more information about WEF’s stimulus activities, including a complete summary of water infrastructure provisions in the ARRA, visit www.wef.org.