Bill passed out of Senate on the heels of unanimous vote out of Environment and Public Works Committee
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) of 2021. RCAP and its regional partners thank Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for expeditiously bringing this important priority to the floor for a vote. We also thank Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Tom Carper and Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito and their staff for working with the water sector and committee members on both sides of the aisle to craft this legislation in a manner that prioritizes rural water systems.
This transformative legislation will help rural communities by breaking down barriers that make it difficult for small and disadvantaged systems to access federal funds. First, the bill increases authorizations for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds and increases the percentages of these funds that states must use for grants, negative interest loans, and debt forgiveness measures. Additionally, the bill provides several new avenues for communities to access technical assistance and training from qualified non-profit organizations. Improved access to funding and technical assistance will give many small systems the capacity they need to become financially solvent and to ensure reliably safe and affordable service to their customers.
RCAP also strongly supports the creation of a nationwide, permanent federal low-income water assistance program. Although this provision did not make it into the bill, we are appreciative of the efforts to create a pilot program toward those ends, as well as the $1.1 billion in funding for low-income assistance provided by recent COVID-19 relief packages. While these will not adequately meet the funding need, currently estimated to be over $8 billion, they represent a strong first step towards an eventual nation-wide, permanent assistance program.
Nathan Ohle, Chief Executive Officer of RCAP, issued the following statement:
“RCAP is grateful for Majority Leader Schumer expeditiously bringing DWWIA 2021 to the floor and for the quick work of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in producing such strong and bipartisan legislation.
RCAP is proud to support this bill because Americans deserve clean, safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water regardless of their community’s size or zip code.”
RCAP looks forward to working with House offices to ensure they draft companion legislation that mirrors the Senate’s commitment to prioritizing rural communities.
RCAP is a national non-profit network providing opportunity, assistance, and practical guidance to small communities in all fifty states, U.S. territories, and tribal lands to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitary wastewater disposal, and economic prosperity for all rural America. To learn more about RCAP, visit www.rcap.org.