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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

White House Announces $5.8B Investment in Water Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, DC – On Feb. 20, 2024, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of the fourth Investing in America tour, Vice President Kamala Harris and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan announced over $5.8 billion from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for states, Tribes, and territories to invest in drinking water and clean water infrastructure upgrades.

The funding is part of the over $50 billion investment in water infrastructure upgrades from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—the largest such investment in American history. Today’s announcement will support essential water infrastructure that protects public health and treasured water bodies across the nation. Almost half of this funding will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans, ensuring funds reach underserved communities most in need of investments in water infrastructure. 

Aging Infrastructure

Communities across the country are facing water infrastructure challenges. Many cities and towns have aging water infrastructure—old, broken or lead pipes carrying drinking water and wastewater treatment plants in need of major upgrades. Some communities struggle to maintain adequate stormwater infrastructure to effectively manage flood impacts from climate change and others need to upgrade their water treatment to address emerging contaminants like PFAS. 

The $5.8 billion investment will be made through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), one of EPA’s signature water investment programs. This multi-billion-dollar investment will fund state-run, low-interest loan programs to address key challenges, with $2.6 billion going to the Clean Water SRF for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and $3.2 billion going to the Drinking Water SRF for drinking water infrastructure. Today’s announcement includes allotments for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law General Supplemental funds and Emerging Contaminant funds for SRF programs for fiscal year 2024. EPA anticipates announcing allocations for billions of dollars in additional resources for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Lead Service Line Replacement fund later this spring. 

A Right to Clean Water

“President Biden and I believe that every person in our country should have a right to clean water no matter where they live or how much money they make. That is why our Administration made clean water a national priority and delivered the largest investment in America’s water infrastructure in history,” said Vice President Harris. “Today, I am proud to announce more than $5.8 billion from our Investing in America agenda for states, Tribes, and territories to upgrade water infrastructure in communities across our nation. With this investment, we are continuing our urgent work to remove every lead pipe in the country and ensure that every American has access to safe and reliable drinking water.” 

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda continues to transform communities for the better with this latest infusion of funds for critical water infrastructure projects,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “With $50 billion in total, the largest investment in water infrastructure in our nation’s history, EPA will enable communities across the nation to ensure safer drinking water for their residents and rebuild vital clean water infrastructure to protect public health for decades to come.”

“Across our Commonwealth, too many communities are struggling to fix leaking pipes and aging infrastructure that stand in the way of bringing clean water to Pennsylvania families,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “With this funding from the Biden Administration, we will be able to continue making critical investments in our infrastructure in order to build a better future for our communities. Together, we can ensure access to clean water and uphold Pennsylvanians’ Constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and a healthy environment.” 

“Our state constitution affords the right to safe, pure water to every Pennsylvanian,” said US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “Thanks to the infrastructure law, we’re protecting people and the environment from water contamination, and ensuring the availability of clean, safe drinking water for homes and businesses.” 

“Upwards of 37 public schools in Western Pennsylvania have lead contamination in their water. I came to Congress to represent the Black, brown, and poor communities that have been deemed as ‘sacrifice zones’ for polluters. Generations of folks in communities like mine have grown up in and are now raising children in zip codes that have water funneled through lead pipes next to rivers and streams too polluted to swim in. That’s why earlier this year, we secured $84.5 million to remove lead water lines, and are continuing to fight for environmental justice” said Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12). “I’m proud to work with the Biden Administration to bring home an additional $99 million for clean water and $75 million for clean drinking water from the Environmental Protection Agency to Pennsylvania—which will mean less kids getting sick and more families having the security of knowing their environment isn’t posing an imminent threat to their health.”

“Exposure to any level of lead puts everyone, especially kids, at risk,” said Rep. Chris Deluzio (PA-17). “I am so glad President Biden’s Infrastructure Law is investing directly in communities in Western Pennsylvania to remove dangerous lead pipes and ensure folks have clean and safe drinking water.”

“For generations, the plumber has protected the health of the nation. With this funding announced today, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to ensure we continue to protect the health of the nation for generations to come,” said Mark McManus, General President of the United Association. “The strong labor protections attached to the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic infrastructure bills ensure that the best trained and most highly skilled craftspeople in the industry, the men and women of the United Association, will continue to build and maintain the essential infrastructure that delivers clean and safe water to all American communities. We are already hard at work replacing lead service lines, modernizing water treatment facilities, and upgrading water distribution systems—and the entire United Association looks forward to continuing our important work in partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in Action

Since 2022, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has injected $21.9 billion into water infrastructure projects across the country protecting public health, preserving water resources, and creating jobs. To view stories about how the unpreceded investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are transforming communities across the country, visit EPA’s new Investing in America’s Water Infrastructure Storymap ↗. To read more about some additional projects that are underway, see EPA’s recently released Quarterly Report on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funded Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF projects ↗.   

In the greater Pittsburgh area, water utilities are working hard to remove lead service lines from operation and reduce exposure to lead from drinking water. The Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority used $9.5 million from the FY23 State Revolving Fund to replace approximately 1,000 lead service lines in low-income residential neighborhoods.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law ↗ dedicates more than $15 billion to replacing lead service lines. Through the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan ↗ and Get the Lead Out Partnership ↗, the Biden-Harris Administration has made accelerating the removal of lead service lines a top priority, with a goal of replacing 100% of lead service lines, a key element under the proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements ↗. The DWSRF general supplemental funding announced today may be used to achieve this goal. In addition, in the coming months, EPA will allocate additional resources exclusively for lead pipe removal and replacement through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Lead Service Line Replacement fund.

Background 

The Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and the Clean Water State Revolving Funds have been the foundation of water infrastructure investments for more than 30 years, providing low-cost financing for local projects across America. SRF programs are critically important programs for investing in the nation’s water infrastructure. They are designed to generate significant and sustainable water quality and public health benefits across the country. Their impact is amplified by the growth inherent in a revolving loan structure—payment of principal and interest on loans made are available to address future needs.

For more information, including state-by-state allocation of 2023 funding, and a breakdown of EPA State Revolving Fund funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, please visit the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund website ↗ and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund website ↗.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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