“Communities in Wisconsin and across the United States are committed to providing safe drinking water for families and their children, but we need to invest in rebuilding our water infrastructure,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’ve heard from Wisconsinites who are calling for stronger investments to meet this challenge and I have worked in the Senate to advance bipartisan solutions.”
Senator Baldwin helped shape WRDA by leading water improvement efforts:
Water Technology Acceleration Act
The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 protects against health threats in our water supply by incorporating Senator Baldwin’s Water Technology Acceleration Act. The Water Technology Acceleration Act, authored by Senator Baldwin earlier this year, accelerates the development and deployment of water technologies to solve our most pressing water challenges, including lead safety, phosphorous reduction and treatment of bacteria and nitrates.
WRDA includes the Water Technology Acceleration Act’s Innovative Water Technology Grant program, which would fund public-private partnerships that deploy, test and improve emerging water technologies. Additionally, WRDA includes reforms based on Senator Baldwin’s Water Technology Acceleration Act to encourage the development and deployment of innovative water technologies in municipal water and wastewater treatments systems by making them eligible for additional subsidization under the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Many Wisconsin communities are facing costly phosphorous treatment upgrades, and this funding could help them utilize lower-cost options, reducing costs at the local level.
While there are many companies that are developing advanced water technologies, in many cases there is no functioning market for their deployment. Senator Baldwin’s reforms would create a federal role for accelerating the testing, deployment and encouraging the commercialization of technologies, including pipes with smart sensors that can tell you when water is contaminated or when water pressure is dropping. The legislation would also help accelerate technologies to address livestock waste treatment systems, green infrastructure and updated stream gauges, which can help reduce the costs of a variety of water problems, such as upgrading water infrastructure and treating manure that runs into surface waters.
Made in America Water Infrastructure Act
Senator Baldwin’s Made in America Water Infrastructure Act is included in WRDA. Her “Buy American” provision will help rebuild our aging drinking water infrastructure by requiring all iron and steel used in these projects to be 100 percent American-made. This will ensure that the water American families
drink is carried through high-quality pipes manufactured right here in the United States, not foreign countries with lower standards.
In addition to reforms authored by Senator Baldwin, investments championed by Baldwin in the Senate have been included in WRDA to reduce the threat of lead poisoning in communities and improve drinking water infrastructure:
The True LEADership Act
On the heels of the Flint water crisis, Senator Baldwin helped lead the introduction of the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016, or True LEADership Act, to improve our nation’s water infrastructure and address the scourge of lead-laden water and housing while creating thousands of new jobs. WRDA includes numerous reforms from the True LEADership Act that Senator Baldwin has championed:
Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA): WRDA will leverage at least $700 million in secured financing for water infrastructure projects across the country. WIFIA will significantly leverage federal investment in water infrastructure, lower the cost of infrastructure investments, and increase the availability of lower-cost capital for critical water infrastructure projects. All water systems are eligible for WIFIA financing.
Reducing lead in drinking water grant program: Senator Baldwin strongly supported this new grant program aimed at rebuilding water infrastructure and reducing the threat of lead poisoning from drinking water in communities across the country. Communities will be able to use this funding for replacement of lead service lines, testing, planning, corrosion control, and education. This excludes partial lead service line replacement from eligibility, authorizes $60 million for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021, for a total of $300 million over five years, and provides $20 million in direct spending to carry out this program.