Whether we are aware of it or not, many of our day-to-day activities depend on the infrastructure around us. From bridges and roads to sewers and piping, such critical systems are essential in supporting our everyday functionality.

Given the significance of these complex systems and structures, it’s important to take steps to maintain and rehabilitate the quality and effectiveness of our aging infrastructure. In fact, in 2021 the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a C-minus letter grade score for our nation’s infrastructure report card based on current conditions and upgrades needed. Within that report card, the drinking water category received a C-minus and the wastewater category received a D-plus. According to the ranking system, a C letter grade means that the infrastructure is in fair to good condition but still shows signs of requiring attention.

These rankings are a testament to the importance of the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law Nov. 15. The act creates enormous funding opportunities for our water and wastewater networks, with major focuses on delivering clean water to all Americans, as well as taking steps toward eliminating lead service lines across the U.S.

Funding Allocation

Of the $550 billion dollars included in the act, $55 billion dollars will be allocated toward water infrastructure overall. Of that amount, $43.4 billion will be allocated to state revolving funds — administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state agencies. Those dollars will fund the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act and lead service line replacement and will be allocated as follows:

  • Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act: $23.4 billion will be directed into the State Revolving Funds, which offer loans at below market rates and grants for water infrastructure improvements that protect public health and the environment; 49% of this funding is to be administered as grants and forgivable loans.
  • Lead service line replacement: $15 billion will be directed into the State Revolving Funds, which will then be distributed for lead service line replacement; 49% of the funding is to be administered as grants and forgivable loans.

Separate from the overall water infrastructure funding category, $8.3 billion will be allocated to fund western water infrastructure through the Bureau of Reclamation, which includes aging infrastructure, drought contingency plans and more.

Next Steps

With new, generation-defining infrastructure legislation in place, it’s easy to wonder where we go from here and what next steps are. There are no clear or easy answers. While there is a lot of excitement over what’s to come and new possibilities, the approval of the act is just the beginning.

Now the workload will shift from Capitol Hill to federal agencies, which have incredible responsibility on their shoulders to implement this new law and determine speedy, yet efficient, ways to distribute the funds. Additionally, state agencies must now renovate, upgrade and build new infrastructure assets.

While it could take some time for America to see real results from this new approach to rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, one step that is important to take now is to apply to be on your state’s Intended Use Plan. This plan is used to identify intended uses of the funds in the State Revolving Funds and is filed annually to determine how funds will be awarded each year.

We look forward to keeping you in the know as we learn more about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and how it could impact your water projects.

 

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This post is part of our series that dissects the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and addresses potential impacts of it on industries and infrastructure projects across the country. Learn more from these posts:

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Tracy Streeter joined Burns & McDonnell in 2019 after 33 years with the state of Kansas. Tracy served as director of the Kansas Water Office, the state’s water planning, policy and coordination agency, from 2004-2018. Previously, he served as executive director of the State Conservation Commission. Tracy’s current duties with Burns & McDonnell involve assisting communities and industries throughout Kansas and across the country with water planning and water supply solutions.