Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Infrastructure Bills

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) unanimously passed America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020) and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 in May. The bills now need approval from the full Senate and ultimately, President Donald Trump, who has called on Congress to pass comprehensive infrastructure legislation after the country gets past the immediate COVID-19 health crisis.

AWIA 2020 provides roughly $17 billion in new federal authorizations to invest in infrastructure projects across the country and sets a two-year goal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete feasibility studies for potential projects. Support for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) is included within the AWIA 2020 legislation. If the bill is passed, WIFIA would be reauthorized to provide $50 million in fiscal years 2022, 2023, and 2024. While that amount might seem trivial, the authorization is required to cover loans that default. Since the default rate is so low for water and wastewater utilities, the authorization can be leveraged up to $5 billion in funding, with a 51% match requirement pushing the overall infrastructure investment beyond $10 billion.

The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 reauthorizes Safe Drinking Water Act programs that support drinking water infrastructure and provide resources and technical assistance to communities facing critical drinking water needs.

“Our committee has taken a significant step to improve our dams, ports, flood-prevention infrastructure, reservoirs, and drinking water systems,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming. “America’s Water Infrastructure Act and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act will create jobs and grow our economy.”

“Every American relies on water infrastructure. Millions of Americans across the country rely on Army Corps of Engineers projects to safely navigate our waters, stay safe from flooding and storm damage, and reap the benefits of healthy aquatic ecosystems and marshlands,” said Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware. “Our country’s drinking water and wastewater systems, shipping channels and flood control structures are essential to our economy and way of life, but they are also in desperate need of improvements and investments. America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 will make badly needed improvements and investments in water infrastructure systems throughout the country.”