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Windfall: Substantial water infrastructure funding is in the infrastructure law

News | December 3, 2021 | By:

Photograph courtesy U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Following the passage and signing of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be making significant investments in the health, equity and resilience of American communities. With unprecedented funding to support our national infrastructure, EPA will improve people’s health and safety, help create good-paying jobs and increase climate resilience throughout the country, the agency says in a prepared statement.  

The IIJA represents the single largest investment in water that the federal government has ever made.

The nation has underinvested in water infrastructure for too long. Insufficient water infrastructure threatens America’s security, and it risks people’s health, jobs, peace of mind and future prosperity. The IIJA delivers more than $50 billion to EPA to improve our nation’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. This is a historic investment that includes the following.

Safe drinking water

The IIJA includes $11.7 billion to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and $15 billion to the Drinking Water SRF for Lead Service Line Replacement. It also includes $4 billion to the Drinking Water SRF for Emerging Contaminants and $5 billion to Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Grants to address emerging contaminants.

What this means

There are still 6 to 10 million lead services lines in cities and towns across the country, many of which are in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. Because of the investments in the bipartisan infrastructure law, millions of American families will no longer have to fear the harmful health effects caused by lead and other pollutants in their water. People will be protected from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or “forever chemical” contamination. And investing in our water infrastructure will put Americans to work in good-paying jobs.

Clean water for communities

The IIJA contains $11.7 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund SRF and $1 billion for the Clean Water SRF for Emerging Contaminants.

What this means

More people will be able to freely swim, fish and play in their waters. Wild spaces will be cleaner and more vibrant. Communities will benefit from improved economic prosperity built on clean water resources as more quality, good-paying jobs are created.

Protected regional waters

The IIJA also includes $1.7 billion for geographic programs and $267 million for the National Estuary Program, Gulf Hypoxia Program and more.

What this means

From the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes to Puget Sound, communities will be able to better protect our national water treasures and ensure they continue to serve as vital economic and recreational assets.

Historic funding to cleanup longstanding pollution and redevelop communities         

The IIJA invests $5.4 billion in cleaning up legacy pollution at Superfund and brownfields sites, helping to restore the economic vitality of communities, including:

Superfund cleanup

The infrastructure law includes $3.5 billion for Superfund site cleanup work.

What this means

More than one in four black and hispanic Americans live within three miles (4.8 km) of a Superfund site. No community deserves to have contamination near where they live, work, pray and go to school. With this funding, communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination will finally get the protections they deserve.

Brownfields revitalization

The law contains $1.5 billion to scale-up community-led brownfields revitalization.

What this means

Blighted and polluted sites in communities across America will be assessed, cleaned up and made available for safe reuse, spurring job creation and economic opportunity in areas that need it most.

Waste and recycling

The IIJA embraces $350 million for Solid Waste and Recycling Grants and $25 million for battery recycling.

What this means

Communities across the country are burdened by pollution impacts from inefficient waste management systems. This historic investment will transform recycling and solid waste management across the country while creating jobs. This investment will also improve the nation’s battery recycling programs while promoting the safe handling of used batteries.

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