On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which invests $1 billion over five years in water recycling programs for the Western United States. This is an historic investment in water recycling, which until now has received roughly $65 million per year through the Bureau of Reclamation. The bill also directs the Administration to establish a federal Interagency Working Group on Water Reuse, which will break down silos, leverage resources throughout the federal family, and facilitate stakeholder engagement on water recycling.
“Communities across the country are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply—essential for livable communities with healthy environments, robust economies and a high quality of life. With enactment of the bi-partisan infrastructure investment package, Congress and the Administration recognize the essential role water recycling is playing in helping communities confront the impacts of climate change and build more resilient and sustainable water resources for their communities. This is an important day for water in the U.S.,” said Patricia Sinicropi, Executive Director of the WateReuse Association.
The WateReuse Association worked closely with congressional champions over many months to secure these provisions. We extend our particular thanks to Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) along with Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) for their tireless efforts.
Within the $1 billion for Western water recycling is $550 million for the Title XVI Water Reuse Grants Program and $450 million for a new competitive grant program for large-scale water recycling projects. Both programs will be administered by the Bureau of Reclamation.
With enactment of this package, Congress also recognized that communities throughout the nation are making investments in water recycling by authorizing the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, the first nationwide grant program to support investments in water recycling. This program is on target to receive funding through the Build Back Better Act.
The Build Back Better Act
As noted above, though the Infrastructure and Jobs Act invests in water recycling for western states , the Build Back Better Act (also known as the budget reconciliation package) invests $125 million in the only nationwide water recycling program, the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program. The program will expand access to water recycling tools and resources nationwide. Senators Carper, Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Alex Padilla (D-CA) along with Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) played key roles in securing funding for this program in the package.
Through the Alternative Water Source Grants Pilot Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide competitive grants to state, interstate, and intrastate water resource development agencies to engineer, design, construct, and test alternative water source systems, including water recycling systems. WateReuse worked closely with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and other congressional champions to secure this funding, and is urging that it be retained in the final reconciliation package as enacted.