Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have approved bill S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which includes biennial funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and identifies other policy directives that impact clean water infrastructure funding. The bill also includes something major for the stormwater community.
Thanks in large part to the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance (NMSA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the America’s Water Infrastructure Act establishes the first-ever stormwater financing federal task force. The task force was one of several suggestions in the Recommendations to Improve the Stormwater Program in the U.S. Fact Sheet, authored by the two coalitions earlier this year to help highlight the needs in the stormwater industry. If you haven’t taken a look at this quick read, please do so. These are the stormwater industry’s primary talking points for the near future and we need to continue to have one unified clean water voice.
Surface water quality issues are still unresolved more than 30 years after the Clean Water Act’s deadline for ending pollutant discharge — with stormwater considered the only increasing source of water pollution. Additionally, annual devastating floods and coastal resiliency needs have highlighted the importance and inadequacy of our country’s stormwater conveyance and flood management infrastructure. This taskforce will play a significant role in examining some of the clean water industry’s greatest environmental challenges, identifying solutions, and recommending funding.
Advanced stormwater management approaches and green infrastructure have major roles to play moving forward, but both are only just beginning to be implemented on a wide scale. And these projects are costly. According to the NMSA, the EPA estimates costs for stormwater retrofits in the Chesapeake Bay alone at approximately $7.9 billion per year. EPA estimates another $150 billion needed for municipal separate storm sewer systems and combined sewer overflows over the next 20 years. The need for better, smarter infrastructure is widespread and funding is scarce.
Composed of state, local, and regional representatives, the development of the taskforce acknowledges the funding shortfalls that our country faces in the stormwater sector. The bill takes strides to resolve this by creating a platform for professionals to study and advocate for comprehensive and appropriate stormwater funding throughout the U.S.