With much pushing and shoving from the Democratic leadership and President Biden, the U.S. House of Representatives, late on November 5th, passed, without amendments, the measure, with a working title of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), approved by the Senate in August. Its official legislative title is the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act.
In fact, it was a bit bipartisan—13 of the votes came from Republican representatives, many of whom have announced their intention to retire from politics after this session. The vote was 228 in favor and 213 opposed, including four members of the progressive group called “the Squad.” In typical Washington style, the final vote took place just before the clock struck midnight, while most of the country was asleep.
Through its membership in the Clean Water Construction Coalition (CWCC) ECA had been keeping an eye on this challenging process, as we reported in this magazine through the summer. The following is a CWCC summary of national funding levels in the bill for water projects over the next several years.
The BIF would appropriate for Fiscal Years 2022-2026 $12.838 billion for the fifty state Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), starting at $2.127B in FY22 and going up to $2.828B by FY26, and $35.713B over five years for the Safe Drinking Water SRF, starting at $6.702B in FY22 and going up to $7.403B by FY26. This would represent two-to-four time increases in annual funding for the SRFs.
No appropriations are included for the Alternative Water Source Projects program, but the bill contains an “authorization” of $125 million over five fiscal years. For the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), the bill appropriates $8.3B for FY22-26 with an annual cap of $1.66B per year. The bill lists a number of programs under USBR’s authority with specific appropriated amounts but does not specify annual funding amounts for each program. Either the Interior Appropriations bill will make that decision or the USBR.
For water recycling, the bill appropriates $1B over 5 FY’s, broken down to $550M for Title XVI and WIIN Act grants and $450M for “large scale” projects (those with project costs >$500M). Again, regarding the $550M, the bill does not break this down between the two programs, leaving that to either the Interior Appropriations bill or the USBR. The bill also includes $400M over five FYs for Water SMART programs, $1.2B for water storage and groundwater, and $25M for desalination projects.
How Much for California?
According to Governor Newsom’s office, California expects to receive:
- $25.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $4.2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
- $9.45 billion over five years to improve public transportation options across the state.
- $384 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state and the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging.
- Aminimum of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.
- $84 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $40 million to protect against cyberattacks.
- $3.5 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure clean, safe drinking water for California communities.
- $1.5 billion for infrastructure development for airports over five years.
This money will not show up randomly in the state’s coffers, but as a roughly 50 percent increase in existing state SRF, Caltrans and local government agency funding, with existing rules and regulations regarding the dispersal of the funds. This is where ECA will be turning its attention starting next year and for the next several years called for in the BIF, so stay tuned!