WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, praised the bipartisan effort to finally move forward sweeping reforms and support to our nation’s drinking water systems by providing new federal tools to address many of the issues faced as our water infrastructure crumbles due to age and growing demands. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) contains language first introduced in 2009 by then Chairman of the EPW Water and Wildlife Subcommittee Cardin, from S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act. In addition to other Cardin-authored bills, WRDA includes much of S. 2821, the TRUE LEADership Act (Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016), a comprehensive effort introduced earlier this April by Senator Cardin with 29 of his colleagues that recommits the federal government to a critical role in water infrastructure investment, lead remediation and the strong drinking water protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Comprehensive water infrastructure reform has been a long time coming. Long before Flint was seared into the national consciousness, we have been fighting year after year to upgrade our hidden water infrastructure, strengthen drinking water protections and get lead and other contaminants out of our communities,” said Senator Cardin. “Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink and that Congress will do everything within its power to ensure that happens. Urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods – in every community in America – will be helped by the provisions we’ve been able to include in this bipartisan WRDA bill.
“I am exceedingly proud that once passed into law, school systems in Baltimore City and elsewhere around the country that have had to turn off the water fountains in their schools due to the threat of lead contamination, should receive the support they need to fix the problems provide our children with clean, safe drinking water that does not come from a bottle. This bill authorized $300 million over five years in grants to remove lead pipes from the houses of low-income communities, schools and day care centers, among others. Rural systems also will benefit from the inclusion of the Water Supply Cost Savings Act (S. 1642), first introduced by Senator Cardin with Senator John Boozman in 2015, which removes some of the technical and financial barriers to clean water that rural communities face while improving quality of life.”
Sec. 7101. PRECONSTRUCTION WORK – Section 203 of S. 1005-111th
Amends the revolving loan program under the Safe Drinking Water Act to make planning, design, and associated preconstruction activities, replacement or rehabilitation of aging treatment, storage, or distribution facilities, and public water system security measures eligible for assistance.
Affirms the use of state revolving loan funds as security for state bonds.
Sec. 7102. PRIORITY SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS – Section 204 of S. 1005-111th
Adds sustainability to priorities under a State intended use plan, and gives greater weight to applications that include asset management plans and review of restructuring options, consistency with watershed plans, water conservation plans, and sustainability approaches.
Sec. 7103. ADMINISTRATION OF STATE LOAN FUNDS – Section 206 of S. 1005-111th
Authorizes the use of fees collected and the greatest of 4% of the capitalization grant, 1/5th of the valuation of the fund, or $400,000 to be used to administer a state fund.
Sec. 7104. OTHER AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES – Section 207 of S. 1005-111th
Makes implementation of source water protection plans an eligible use of assistance from a state revolving loan fund.
Sec. 7105. NEGOTIATION OF CONTRACTS – Section 209 of S. 1005-111th
Applies the Brooks Act relating to negotiation of contracts for architectural or engineering services applicable to use of funds provided under the state revolving loan fund, if the assistance if for a community with a population of more than 10,000.
Sec. 7112. WATERSENSE PROGRAM – Section 307 of S. 1005-111th
Authorizes EPA’s voluntary WaterSense program that allows water efficient products, buildings, landscapes, facilities, processes, and service to bear a “WaterSense” label.
Sec. 7205. FINANCIAL CAPABILITY GUIDANCE – Section 309 of S. 1005-111th
Defines affordability and financial capability. Prohibits the use of median household income as the sole indicator of affordability for a residential household.
Requires EPA to update its 1997 Financial Capability guidance and 2014 Financial Capability Assessment Framework within one year of the completion of a National Academy of Public Administration study to establish a definition and framework for community affordability required by Senate Report 114–70.
Sec. 7201. SEWER OVERFLOW CONTROL GRANTS. – Section 111 of S. 1005-111th
Reauthorizes section 221 of the Clean Water Act, which authorizes grants for addressing combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and stormwater discharges, totaling $1.8 billion over five years.
Sec. 7202. SMALL TREATMENT WORKS – Section 101 of S. 1005-111th
Establishes a technical assistance program for small treatment works, to be carried out by qualified nonprofit technical service providers. Authorizes $15 million a year for five years, totaling $75 million, to carry out this program.
Authorizes states to use up to 2 percent of a capitalization grant for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund for technical assistance for small systems.
TRUE LEADership Act (S. 2821) sections included in WRDA:
Sec. 7107. REDUCING LEAD IN DRINKING WATER – GET THE LEAD OUT Act
Authorizes a grant program for replacement of lead service lines, testing, planning, corrosion control, and education. Excludes partial lead service line replacement from eligibility. Authorizes $60 million for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021, for a total of $300 million over five years.
Provides $20 million in direct spending to carry out this program.
Sec. 7109. NOTICE TO PERSONS SERVED
Revises the notification requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act to require notice to the persons served by the system of exceedances of lead action levels within 15 days. If there is a violation of the Act has the potential for serious health effects, notice is also required to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and county health agencies. Authorizes the Administrator to provide notice of any lead monitoring results.
Sec. 7110. ELECTRONIC REPORTING OF DRINKING WATER DATA
Requires electronic reporting of compliance monitoring data, where practicable.
Sec. 7111. LEAD TESTING IN SCHOOL AND CHILD CARE DRINKING WATER
Authorizes $20 million a year for fiscal years 2017 through 2021, totaling $100 million, for grants to carry out a voluntary school and child care lead testing program.
Sec. 7304. INNOVATIVE WATER TECHNOLOGY GRANT PROGRAM
Authorizes $50 million a year for EPA to make grants to accelerate the development of innovative technologies to address pressing water challenges, with a priority for projects that provide substantial cost savings, significantly improve human health and the environment, or provide additional water supplies with minimal environmental impact. Provides $10 million in direct spending.
Sec. 7308. INNOVATION IN CLEAN WATER STATE REVOLVING FUNDS
Encourages the use of innovative technologies to carry out projects available for additional subsidization
Authorizes technical assistance to facilitate financial assistance for the use of innovative water technologies and a report to Congress on such assistance and use.
Sec. 7309. INNOVATION IN DRINKING WATER STATE REVOLVING FUNDS
Makes use of innovative technologies eligible for additional subsidization under the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
Additionally, as noted above,
Sec. 7305. WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH ACT AMENDMENTS. (Cardin-Boozman S. 653)
This language reauthorizes the Water Resources Research Act at $1.5 million for each of fiscal years 2015 through 2020 for a total of $9 million. Federal grants in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, will provide continued support for important research on state and regional water challenges, provide training for hydrologists and other water-related scientists and engineers, and fund public outreach and education on water issues.
Sec. 7113. WATER SUPPLY COST SAVINGS. (Boozman-Cardin S. 1642)
Establishes a drinking water technology clearinghouse to provide information on cost-effective, innovative, and alternative drinking water delivery systems, including systems that are supported by wells. Requires dissemination of information to systems serving 500 or fewer persons.