Federal stormwater legislation update: U.S. Congress passes policies proposed by WEF and partners

When President Trump signed into law the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3021) on Oct. 23 , a special federal stormwater financing task force was created. The Water  Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA; Alexandria, Va.) have proposed and advocated for this task force during  the last year. The bill also includes several other provisions that WEF   advocated for and that will benefit stormwater infrastructure funding resources for communities nationwide.

In early 2018, WEF and NMSA collaborated to develop a set of stormwater policy recommendations to Congress, one of which was to create a special stormwater financing task force to identify stormwater infrastructure financing needs and provide policy recommendations to Congress and federal agencies on how to provide more stormwater infrastructure funding resources to communities. The provision was included in the Senate version of the S. 3021, but excluded from the House version of the bill. Original legislation was introduced by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) and passed by the House in July 2018. When the House and Senate met in Conference Committee to negotiate the final bill, they added the task force.

Specifically, the task force will be “composed of federal, state, and local governments and private (including nonprofit) entities to conduct a study on, and develop recommendations to improve, the availability of public and private sources of funding for the construction, rehabilitation, and operation and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure to meet the requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.)”

WEF and NMSA are now working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress to provide necessary funding for the task force to get to work.

S. 3021 also includes several other stormwater-related provisions.

  • The law provides a 2-year extension to the EPA Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and authorization for it to receive $50 million per year. This funding level will conservatively provide $5 billion in low-interest federal financing for water infrastructure, including stormwater infrastructure.
  • It authorizes $225 million per year in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 in grants to states and directly to municipal entities for project to address combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and stormwater collection and conveyance infrastructure.
  • A new grant program will provide $1 million per year to eligible organizations to provide water workforce job training, such as on-the-job training, skills development, apprenticeships, test-preparation, and other purposes. Green infrastructure training is specifically identified in the bill.

 

Steve Dye is legislative director for the Water Environment Federation.

 

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