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Bipartisan senators announce $19.5B water infrastructure proposal

April 21, 2020   The Hill

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The Hill – Washington, DC – 4/21/20 – Rachel Frazin


Lawmakers on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee have announced two pieces of draft legislation that together would invest  $19.5 billion into the country’s water infrastructure.


One draft bill, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020) would aim to increase water storage, offer flooding protection and repair wastewater and irrigation systems among other measures.


The other, the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 aims to help communities meet their drinking water needs.


“The draft legislation will help ensure American-made goods are safely shipped from one state to another and that the water Americans are drinking is safe,” said Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) in a statement.


He added that the bills, in addition to a highway bill that has already been introduced, would answer calls from President Trump for Congress to "pass comprehensive infrastructure legislation, once we are past the immediate health crisis."


Barrasso and top EPW Democrat Tom Carper (Del.) announced the legislation together in a statement, which said that the bills will build upon the committee’s bipartisan 2018 water infrastructure legislation.


Carper said in the statement that the new legislation “would improve projects’ resiliency to extreme weather events, increase the transparency and accountability of federally-funded projects and ensure that every community can benefit from federal funding and support — especially the smaller, rural and vulnerable communities that have been disregarded for far too long.”


The draft AWIA 2020 legislation would authorize $17 billion in new infrastructure projects. It would also set a two-year goal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete feasibility studies for potential projects and aim to increase Western water storage and build flood management infrastructure in the Midwest.


The draft Drinking Water Infrastructure Act legislation would cost $2.5 billion. It would reauthorize the  Safe Drinking Water Act emergency fund , which provides resources to communities with dangerous water issues. It would also authorize $300 million in grants to help deal with contaminants, focusing on a class of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS.


President Trump signed the committee’s 2018 legislation, which had passed the Senate 99-1 in October of that year.