America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018


Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 passed in the Senate on October 10th, 2018 in a 99-1 majority vote. The purpose of the bill is to update existing marine and freshwater infrastructure throughout the United States. Unfortunately, AWIA fails to address emerging contaminants that are currently impacting communities around the country. This article provides a brief overview of the bill, some of its major gaps, and what we think are priority drinking water issues.

What Does America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 Include?

Flood Control Management:

Aside from the direct immediate threat from a storm surge, flooding can have serious impacts after the fact. An increased threat of biological contamination into a water supply, non-point source pollution, and damages to water distribution infrastructure are just some of the long term implications from flooding. AWIA plans to reauthorize and increase funding to reduce impacts from climate related events, as well as restoration projects. Projects impacted by this water legislation include dam restoration, funding for levee systems, and stormwater capture.

Reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA):

Under WIFIA, states that are eligible can apply for Clean Water State Revolving Funds and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. WIFIA also includes development and implementation activities, such as lead service line replacements. AWIA plans to reauthorize funding for these programs.

Reauthorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF):

Through the DWSRF, states can receive funding for various types of water-related projects. States are then required to prioritize projects that; address issues that pose a serious threat to human health, are necessary for a water system to reach compliance under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and assist high-risk water systems. AWIA plans to reauthorize funding for this program.

Our Take:

There’s no question that updating water infrastructure in the United States is completely necessary. However, the 2018 Water Infrastructure Act will not create meaningful changes to drinking water. A majority of the bill aims to reauthorize existing provisions, and make minor adjustments to certain acts. AWIA emphasizes the level at which policies address drinking water quality in this country: poorly. The bill reiterates the status quo, with zero attention to the new and emerging contaminants that are violently impacting communities around the country. Chromium 6, Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and Perchlorate are all industrial contaminants that were not touched upon in this bill. AWIA is also far too broad in scope. The provisions combined marine with freshwater infrastructure, without strictly focusing attention on drinking water. 

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