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Garamendi Votes to Advance Bill to Modernize Water Infrastructure and Create Good-Paying Jobs

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, voted to pass the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) in the Committee. This legislation reauthorizes the Clean Water Act’s State Revolving Funds and related U.S. EPA water programs. The legislation passed the Committee on a bipartisan vote of 42 to 25 and is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Garamendi successfully added three amendments to the legislation during the markup.

“This bipartisan legislation makes desperately needed investments in America’s crumbling and outdated water infrastructure,” Garamendi said. “This bill will help deliver clean water, invest in natural infrastructure for better water management, establish grants to address Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) contamination, create good-paying middle-class jobs, and much more. This legislation also takes steps to address the burgeoning drought conditions we are witnessing in our Congressional District and throughout California by investing in alternative water supplies from water recycling and reuse as well as groundwater recharge.

“I’m pleased that several of my policy priorities were included in this legislation. I will work tirelessly to ensure this strong bipartisan bill passes Congress and is signed into law as quickly as possible,” Garamendi concluded.

Garamendi added the following amendments to the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) during the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s markup of the legislation:

  • Expanding Eligibility for Household Wastewater Grant Program: Garamendi added a provision to the legislation that would allow special districts to be eligible for the U.S. EPA’s new Household Wastewater Grant Program. Prior to the adoption of Garamendi’s amendment, only nonprofits would have been eligible for this grant program. Garamendi represents 237 special districts in Congress that could be well-served by this new competitive grant program. For example, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District and Sacramento Area Sewer District, which are both special districts, are seeking this type of federal grant funding to get the communities of Hood and Franklin in the Delta off their non-compliant private septic systems for each household and hooked up to the adjacent regional public sewer system.
  • Repealing Restrictions on Western Water Recycling Projects: Garamendi successfully added an amendment to the legislation that would repeal restrictions on water recycling and reuse projects that have received previous grants from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI grant program. This will help support California as it ramps up water recycling and reuse efforts to combat worsening drought conditions. This amendment was supported by the Western Recycled Water Coalition, which represents public agencies with water recycling and reuse projects across California and other western states. Senators Feinstein and Padilla offered a similar amendment to the Senate companion bill (S.914).
  • Close Buy American Loopholes: The legislation closes several “Buy America” loopholes to ensure that all of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s federal grant and financing programs under the Clean Water Act require American-made building materials such as pipes, ducts, culverts, and manhole covers. These legislative fixes come from Congressman Garamendi’s bipartisan and bicameral “Made in America Act” (H.R.2468) and are part of his “Make It In America” legislative agenda in Congress.
  • Supporting Anti-Corrosion Efforts: Garamendi successfully added an amendment to the legislation that would incorporate “corrosion-prevention activities” for eligible projects funded by the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF). The Clean Water SRF is a federal-state partnership that provides communities with low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. Garamendi’s amendment would expand the program’s eligibility to ensure it can support local efforts to prevent corrosion around its critical water infrastructure.

The “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) also:

  • Authorizes $40 billion over five years in wastewater infrastructure investments through the Clean Water SRF, which provides low-interest loans, loan subsidizations, and grants to communities for wastewater infrastructure.
  • Authorizes an additional $2 billion for grants to municipalities to capture, treat, or reuse sewer overflows or stormwater.
  • Authorizes $2.5 billion in grants for States to implement state water pollution control programs.
  • Provides $1 billion for Clean Water pilot programs for watershed-based efforts to address wet weather discharges, to promote stormwater best practices, to undertake integrated water resource management, and to increase climate resiliency.
  • Authorizes $1 billion in grants for alternative water source projects, such as wastewater or stormwater reuse, to augment the existing water supplies.
  • Provides $1 billion in Clean Water Act grants to municipalities to implement treatment standards for PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
  • Provides $2.5 billion in wastewater infrastructure assistance to address the backlog of critical needs for Indian Tribes.

A section-by-section summary of the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) is available here.

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