NACWA Commends Congress for Clean Water Support in Omnibus Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2020                                                            

Media Contact:­
David Zielonka | Manager, Media and Communications
(202) 981-3786 | dzielonka@nacwa.org                                                         

Statement from NACWA Expresses Gratitude for Federal Assistance for Variety of Clean Water Programs

(Washington, D.C.) – Tuesday evening, Congress released the final omnibus Appropriations bill of the current session before heading home for the holidays. Most notably, the package contained a provision to create the first ever Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Emergency Assistance Program with $638 million in appropriations – an historic win for water accessibility and the first appropriation of its kind for water assistance.

Also contained in the bill were several other provisions that will greatly benefit the public clean water sector’s efforts to provide affordable and accessible clean water services to all, including:

  • $25 billion in COVID-19 rental assistance which are specifically allowed to be used towards paying utility bill costs and arrearages.
  • The deadline for spending CARES Act funds extended through December 2021 instead of December 2020.
  • Increased funding for water workforce grants from $1 million in FY20 now up to $3 million for FY21.
  • Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), stormwater and wet weather grants program funding increased to $40 million for FY21, up from $28 million in FY20.
  • Language supporting continued funding for EPA’s ongoing activity related to Integrated Planning (IP).
  • Language encouraging CDC to leverage existing partnerships to build greater capacity and coordination in COVID-19 wastewater surveillance.

Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s General Counsel and Chief Advocacy Officer, issued the following statement:

“The passage of yesterday’s omnibus appropriations package marks an important step for congressional investment in clean water infrastructure and an overdue recognition of the courageous work done every day by America’s public clean water utilities.

“By lending a stronger federal hand to the public clean water sector’s efforts to recruit and retain a talented workforce necessary to protect the public health and the environment and by encouraging greater coordination among federal agencies when conducting COVID-19 wastewater surveillance in order to detect and control the spread of the virus, Congress has made it clear they have heard our concerns.

“NACWA is heartened to hear that the incoming Biden administration considers this relief package a down payment on things to come in 2021 for the public clean water sector. We look forward to working with both the Biden administration and the 117th Congress to deliver even greater assistance to America’s public clean water utilities.

“NACWA also extends a special debt of gratitude to the many individual clean water utilities across the country who used their position to advocate for greater assistance to their elected representatives. This work would surely not have been possible without their unflagging dedication to this important cause.”

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About NACWA

For 50 years, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has been the nation’s recognized leader in legislative, regulatory, legal and communications advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. Our unique and growing network strengthens the advocacy voice for the public clean water sector and helps advance policies to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all.  Our vision is to advance sustainable and responsible policy initiatives that help to shape a strong and sustainable clean water future. For more information, visit us at www.nacwa.org

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