The Water Infrastructure Bill 2021 formally now part of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) contains several programs addressing safe drinking water and wastewater treatment. The reauthorized bill, made into law on November 15th, 2021, presents a unique opportunity to leverage funds and introduce new digital solutions that help modernize water systems.
SEC. 50105. Reducing Lead in Drinking Water
The Water Infrastructure Bill 2021 calls out a specific section for eliminating lead service pipes, with a focus on prioritizing upgrades for disadvantaged communities. While the EPA recently announced a new regulation, Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI), which will come into effect in October 2024, the Water Infrastructure Bill 2024 outlines specific requirements for communities seeking grant funds.
Communities may use funds to:
- Develop a detailed asset inventory
- Generate an infrastructure asset map, using technology such as geographic information systems (GIS) software
- Deploy technologies for leak detection or metering
- Invest in asset management training strategies, techniques, or technologies
Eligible water systems include municipalities with more than 30% of identified or suspected lead service lines, including data from lead inventories. Some communities, like Newark, New Jersey, make their lead inventories public to comply with the impending LCRI regulations requiring the public have access to the location of lead service lines and real-time information on replacement progress.
SEC. 50107. Midsize and large drinking water system infrastructure resilience and sustainability program.
While this does not immediately call out the use of technology, the term ‘resilience’ stands out. Water systems seeking to obtain these funds must carry out programs that demonstrate the implementation of a program towards building resilience to cyber threats, natural hazards, and extreme weather events.
SEC. 50107 (pg. 716) further details how funds must be used to “... assist in the planning, design, construction, implementation, operation, or maintenance of a program or project”, such as water reuse implementation, energy efficiency enhancements for conveyance systems, and relocation of drinking water facilities at risk from natural hazards or extreme weather events. Water systems serving more than 10,000 in population can apply.
SEC. 50217. Stormwater infrastructure technology
Section (c) Stormwater Control Infrastructure Project Grants on pg. 748 focuses on fund availability to support stormwater upgrades that “...incorporate new and emerging but proven, stormwater control technologies...” through two different grants:
- Planning and development grant: includes the planning and designing of stormwater control projects related to surveys, landscape plans, maps, long-term operation and maintenance plans, implementation plans, among a few other projects. This grant also includes the identification and development of standards to support infrastructure upgrades.
- Implementation grant: includes the installation of new or emerging stormwater technologies and monitoring and evaluating the benefits of these new or emerging technologies.
Proof of eligibility involves assembling an application containing several details such as: “a plan for the long-term operation and maintenance of the stormwater control infrastructure project and a tracking system, such as asset management practices.”
Next steps with the Water Infrastructure Bill 2021
Communities can take advantage of the new grants available through the Water Infrastructure Bill 2021 but the question is where to start first. In some cases, water system owners might already know which eligible infrastructure upgrades or projects to prioritize first. But others might need support in understanding how to best achieve sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective operations and craft bulletproof capital plans leveraging the available funds.
In either case, thanks to this new bill, a big opportunity exists to introduce new digital solutions to further enhance the nation’s infrastructure. Learn more how Trinnex can help!