We advocate on behalf of the business community to support increased federal investment for water infrastructure

Our country’s water systems are crucial to the nation’s economy, but chronic underinvestment, increasing demand, and issues such as emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure, and cybersecurity concerns have revealed significant weaknesses.

The presence of pollutants in water sources or a lack of reliability—because of aging infrastructure, droughts, and floods—can create public health challenges and act as a deterrent for businesses considering investing in communities, adversely affecting employment opportunities and economic growth. Recognizing the importance of reliable water infrastructure to local economies, it is crucial for Congress to prioritize investments that improve the safety and reliability of drinking water and wastewater systems across the United States.

‍Over the last 40 years, federal investment in our nation’s water infrastructure has decreased dramatically. 95% of the cost of maintaining and upgrading those systems has shifted from the federal government onto the public, through payment of monthly water bills. Recent estimates say that U.S. water infrastructure will need about $1 trillion in federal investment over the next 20 years just to bring our water systems into a state of good repair, and we must increase federal funding to close this water infrastructure investment gap.

That’s why ABWC supports full funding for all water programs, and specifically the following:

Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs)

The Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds are the two major federal funding sources for drinking water and wastewater systems. Traditionally, this money is distributed to states by a formula that considers population and infrastructure project needs among other factors, then the state uses it to fund water infrastructure projects.

While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided new funding for the SRFS over fiscal years 2022 to 2026, annual funding has remained flat and is far lower than authorized levels. As ABWC’s FY24 report shows, there is a multi-billion-dollar gap between FY23 enacted levels of funding and authorized levels.

Further, the House’s FY24 appropriations proposal sharply cuts year-over-year funding for these flagship programs, decreasing total funding by $1.8 billion from FY23 and only providing 16.5% of the authorized level of funding in FY24. Congress must reject proposals to cut water funding, and instead should fully fund EPA’s water programs at their fully authorized level.

Low-Income Customer Assistance

If you get your water from a public utility, like the vast majority of Americans do, growing income inequality means that an increasing number of people in every one of our communities are having a harder time paying their water bills. This affordability challenge does not discriminate, as it causes difficulties not just for low-income households, but for all water customers including businesses, as utilities struggle to recoup bill payments needed to fund high-quality, reliable water services.

While the most disadvantaged families in our communities are the ones bearing the largest burden – creating for many an agonizing choice between paying for water and for other essentials like food or medicine – this is an untenable situation everyone, and federal attention is needed to address it. This is why American Business Water Coalition supports a nationwide, permanent, and fully funded low-income assistance program to help people pay their water bills and get the water treatment that they need.

To these ends, ABWC is a proud co-signer of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ (AMWA) letter to Congress urging continued funding for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) at HHS.

Additional BIL Programs

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also created new programs or increased the authorizations for a range of existing programs at the EPA Office of Water (OW) to address more narrow, issue-specific challenges. ABWC supports the funding of these programs at their fully authorized level, including, but not limited to, the following:

Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Grant Program
Lead Testing in Schools Grant Program
Safe Water for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Grant Program
Technical Assistance and Grants for Emergencies Program
Cybersecurity Support for Public Water Systems
Drinking Water Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability Program
Clean Water Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability Program
Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants
Connection to Publicly Owned Treatment Works Program

As the business community’s representative on water issues in Washington D.C., ABWC is getting the word out about the importance of investing in the future health of our nation’s economy by robustly funding water infrastructure. Water infrastructure is the foundational building block upon which healthy and thriving lives are built, and we cannot ignore it any longer.

Rep. Joe Neguse discusses the importance of robust water infrastructure funding in a November 1, 2023 House Rules Committee hearing.

The American Business Water Coalition is a group of water-reliant businesses—from manufacturing to energy to tech and beyond. The coalition provides a platform for businesses across the country to urge Congress and the Administration to increase investment in water infrastructure, and foster relationships between businesses and their local utilities.
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