State Revolving Funds Restored At FY2023 Levels

The National Utility Contractors Association, our 2,000 members, and the nation’s thousands of communities breathed a sigh of relief after President Biden signed a bill restoring billions to the federal programs providing resources for new water and sewer infrastructure.

“The nation averted almost $2 billion in cuts to two critical water and wastewater infrastructure programs with the passage of this Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill,” said Doug Carlson, NUCA chief executive officer. “Clean water should never again be a political football tossed between political parties. While this industry is thankful Washington belatedly recognized the importance of these resources, our members will be lobbying for an increase in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget for more money to fix our leaking and obsolete drinking water systems. We have a tremendous backlog of infrastructure needs, and Congress needs to be a partner in this process, not a hindrance.”

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The American utility construction industry relies on two large Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs for federally funded water infrastructure projects. In the appropriations package signed into law by President Biden on March 8, EPA’s State Revolving Fund programs were funded at FY 2023 levels, with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) receiving $1.639 billion, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund receiving $1.126 billion.

It is important to note that from these funding levels, within Community Project Funding allocations (Congressionally directed spending, commonly called “earmarks”) $787.65 million was set aside for Clean Water SRF projects, and $631.66 million was set aside for Drinking Water SRF projects. Using earmarks for this funding instead of through state allocations further reduces the amount of program funds allocated directly to states, a process that NUCA does not wish to see continue for infrastructure projects.

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EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program received $72.27 million, an increase of $3.4 million. This program supports low interest financing for water infrastructure projects.

President Biden signature ended an advocacy fight begun last summer by NUCA and other concerned organizations after House Republican appropriators slashed water infrastructure spending by almost $2 billion to cut EPA funding. NUCA motivated our members through several advocacy alerts to contact their lawmakers and reverse these cuts to the SRF program funds. In the end, the EPA received $9.16 billion, $942 million less than FY 2023.

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At the same time, infrastructure resource needs are higher than ever. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the 20-year national drinking water infrastructure need for the United States as estimated by the EPA’s “7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA)” is $625 billion. This is a 32% increase over the 6th DWINSA ($472.6 billion) and an increase of $152 billion in only five years.

Those numbers are just for drinking water. NUCA is currently awaiting the new estimated Clean Watersheds Needs Survey numbers for wastewater and stormwater. The previous analysis, conducted in 2012, found needs of $271 billion. Taken together, it is likely that there will be funding needs of over $1 trillion over the next 20 years for upgrades and repairs to public water and wastewater systems. The funding gap is estimated to remain in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

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The FY2024 $460 billion partial appropriations package (H.R. 4366) passed the Senate by a 75-22 vote the same day after the House of Representatives advanced the package in a 339-85 vote. The bill funds the EPA and a number of agencies through Sept. 30, 2024.

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