The Government Affairs Committee tracks pending legislation and regulations which impact the water and wastewater industry at the local, state and national level. Members of the committee actively participate in stakeholder meetings for various regulations, prepare regulatory updates for the membership, and participate in development on regulations and policies.
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Washington, DC, December 6, 2016 — On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, negotiators in the House and Senate released the “Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act
,” which includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. The bill, which authorizes port, waterway, flood protection projects, aid for Flint, MI, and drinking water and wastewater provisions, is expected to be considered by the House and Senate prior to Congress recessing on Dec. 9th to end the 114th Congress. While final passage of the bill is not certain, the bill is the conclusion of months of tough negotiations between the House and Senate to craft the legislation.
While the primary purpose of WRDA bills has traditionally been to authorize Corps projects and programs, the WIIN Act
also includes a number of provisions that WEF supported. Title II of the bill is titled the Water and Waste Act of 2016, and the first section, Section 2101, is a Sense of Congress to urge robust funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs. This provision is a result of Section 7002 in the earlier Senate version of the WRDA bill which cited a report
by WEF and WateReuse that found economic, job creation, and tax revenue benefits from increased federal funding for the SRF programs.
The WIIN Act
contains a number of provisions to provide assistance to Flint, MI, including authorization to appropriate $170 million through the Drinking Water SRF program and grants for lead line replacement and other programs to reduce lead in drinking water exposure for the citizens of Flint. The bill also includes a Sense of Congress to provide $20 million for Flint through the WIFIA program.
Financial and technical assistance is also provided for small and disadvantaged communities to reduce lead in drinking water, including the replacement of lead service lines. $60 million per year until FY 2021 is provided to help communities at a cost-share of 45% for applicants.
The bill also includes a number of technical adjustments to the WIFIA program, including a provision to permit WIFIA loan applicants to finance fees incurred through the application process into the loan. Applicants will also be credited towards their 51% cost-share for eligible project costs incurred and in-kind contributions prior to the loan award.
Additional provisions in the bill include authorization for 30 new Army Corps of Engineers projects, including ports, levees and a key Everglades restoration effort. Regional ecosystem restoration programs from Lake Tahoe to the Great Lakes to the Delaware River basin, along with two new Indian water rights settlements are all approved in the legislation. There is also language changing the implementation of the coal ash rule and oil spill prevention regulation. Finally, a measure directing EPA to accelerate payments to claimants following the Gold King Mine spill was also included.
For more information, please contact Claudio H. Ternieden, WEF's Senior Director, Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at email@example.com
or at (703) 684-2416.