News Feature | February 27, 2024

States To Receive $5.8 Billion Federal Funding For Drinking Water, Wastewater Projects

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

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After years of emphasizing the importance of drinking water quality and wastewater services for all Americans, the Biden administration has made a new, multi-billion-dollar commitment to ensuring it.

“The Biden administration … announced $5.8B in funding that will go out to every state and territory to help fix an ailing water infrastructure that continues to put millions of Americans’ health at risk,” CNN reported. “The United States has a vast water system; more than 2.2 million miles of underground pipes carry drinking water, and more than 16,000 treatment plants handle wastewater… But the infrastructure has been earning poor grades … for decades.”

Virtually since taking office, Biden has emphasized a commitment to investing in the nation’s buried drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. That has manifested itself in a bigger budget for the U.S. EPA and $15B included in the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” to address lead line replacement.

But states and utilities have argued that they will need more, particularly as Biden has set a hard deadline on replacing outdated drinking water infrastructure within the next eight years.

This latest funding commitment might help meet more of that need, with the investment expected to go to individual states, territories, and tribes through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs, per CNN. But more funding will be needed to truly eliminate problems like lead contamination, PFAS contamination, and unreliable wastewater service.

“(Darren) Olson, with the American Society of Civil Engineers, said he is happy that the federal government is helping to improve the country’s infrastructure but the money is essentially just a drop in the bucket,” according to CNN. “‘The water sector needs all the investment it can get, but when you start to look at what the funding gap is for our water infrastructure, drinking water, wastewater, stormwater — all that is promised is like just one-tenth of what we need,’ he said.”

With such drastic need and such high stakes, the administration framed the investment as one that can help to protect the health of the most vulnerable consumers.

“At school, our children were drinking water from fountains contaminated with lead,” Vice President Kamala Harris said while announcing the funding, per CBS News. “At home, if they poured a glass of water from the kitchen sink or sat down for a home cooked dinner prepared by loving hands but sadly prepared using water from lead pipes, they were consuming toxic water.”

To read more about how water and wastewater systems pay for needed improvements visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.