Congress Passes Omnibus Bill, Includes Water Funding

  • by ACWA Staff
  • Dec 22, 2020
  • Water News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed a $1.4 trillion, comprehensive appropriations package (omnibus) which also contained nearly $900 billion in Covid-19 stimulus. The bill, H.R. 133, has been sent to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

The nearly 5,500 page omnibus text was released late Monday in advance of both House and Senate votes. It includes all 12 appropriations bills, identified by Division A through L. Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies can be found in Division D; Department of the Interior, Environment can be found in Division G.

Funding levels for FY 2021 at relevant departments and programs appear to be consistent with prior years. Notably, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was allocated $1.63 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund; $1.12 billion for Drinking Water State Revolving Fun; and $59.5 million for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Similarly, WaterSMART Grants were allocated $55 million; Water Infrastructure Investments for the Nation (WIIN) storage projects were allocated $134 million; and Title XVI water recycling and WIIN recycling were allocated $63.6 million, combined.

Tucked into the omnibus are also several California water projects authorizations. Some of the enumerated projects include Sites Reservoir; Friant-Kern Canal repair; Delta-Mendota Canal repair; San Luis Reservoir infrastructure improvements; Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion; Sacramento Regional Water Bank; and the Del Puerto Water District Project.

The Covid-19 stimulus bill contains $638 million to help low-income families cover the costs of their drinking water and waste water utility bills. The program, to be run through the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide grants to states and tribes, who in turn will provide funds to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages and rates to low-income households. Up to 3% of the funds will be set aside for tribes. ACWA will work with State officials to implement the program.

Another reason the omnibus can be considered a ‘win’ for Western Water is due to its incorporation of the long-awaited Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), several western water provisions, and largely static funding levels for much-needed federal programs. The text of the full package can found on the House Appropriations Committee website, as well as summaries and section-by-sections for each Division of the bill. ACWA will continue to follow the FY 2021 appropriations package as it is signed by the White House and enacted.

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