News Feature | January 17, 2014

Spending Bill Includes Over $2 Billion For State Water Funds

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

spend

The water sector watched closely this week as Congress moved a massive spending bill.

“A $1.1 trillion spending bill cleared Congress Thursday after conservative resistance collapsed in the Senate. The final 72-26 vote in the Senate sends the measure to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature and averts any threat of a government shutdown through Sept. 30," Politico reported.

The legislation contains various provisions of interest to the water industry.

"Among the more notable line items is a combined $2.35 billion for the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water state revolving funds, which provide low-interest loans to cash-strapped communities for upgrades to their waterworks. That's up from a proposed $1.9 billion in the Obama budgets," E&E News reported, discussing the House version of the bill.

That included $1,448,887,000 for clean water state revolving funds, and $906,896,000 for drinking water state revolving funds, according to a summary from the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA). 

For the clean water funds, "not less than 10 percent of the funds made available under this title to each State for Clean Water State Revolving Fund capitalization grants shall be used by the State for projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmentally innovative activities," per WWEMA's summary.

Meanwhile, "the Great Lakes Restoration Program also receives full funding, at $300 million, in the bill," the E&E News report said.

EPA regulatory programs faced cuts. 

The House "rejected Obama's request for an additional $31 million for climate regulations, $23 million for water regulations and $18 million for the agency's regulatory development office, according to the House summary," E&E News said.

WWEMA also highlighted a "Buy American" provision in the House bill.

That provision states, among other things: "None of the funds made available by a state water pollution control revolving fund...or made available by a drinking water treatment revolving loan fund...shall be used for a project for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair of a public water system or treatment works unless all of the iron and steel products used in the project are produced in the United States."

The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation criticized some water spending in the bill. It included potential wastewater spending in a tally of "pork projects."

The organization titled one section of its report "Waste Water, Waste Treatment - Government Waste." According to Heritage, "on page 436, the Omnibus bill sets aside over $80 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)." 

Previous initiatives funded by this commission include sewer projects and wastewater improvements.

For more on how Congress influences the water industry, check out Water Online's Regulations And Legislation Solution Center.

Image credit: “Spending Money," © 2011 401(K)2013, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/