Stormwater Infrastructure in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
By Steve Dye
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) Stormwater Institute (SWI) advocates for legislation and funding for stormwater sector priorities. As part of its program, the SWI hosts an annual Stormwater Policy Forum during Water Week, where the latest legislative and regulatory updates, policy trends and emerging topics are discussed.
The SWI also produces an annual Recommendations to Improve the Stormwater Program in the U.S. document, which outlines the stormwater specific legislative requests for the year.
As a preview to this year’s Stormwater Policy Forum, WEF’s Legislative Director, Steve Dye, has provided an overview of what the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) means for stormwater infrastructure.
When the IIJA was signed into law by President Biden last November, it was a watershed moment for stormwater infrastructure funding. Through the establishment of new programs and reauthorization of existing programs, the legislation provides potentially up to $3 billion in stormwater infrastructure funding over the next five years.
“Through the establishment of new programs and reauthorization of existing programs, the legislation provides potentially up to $3 billion in stormwater infrastructure funding over the next five years.” -Steve Dye, Director of Legislative Affairs at the Water Environment Federation
The bill also includes several policy provisions that will help communities and surface transportation systems better manage stormwater with an emphasis on resilience and watershed protection. Most of the new funding will still need to be included in the annual fiscal year budget, the most significant sources of funding will be provided through the following IIJA programs:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Sewer Overflow & Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant Program (OSG) will receive $1.4 billion over the next five years. Not less than 25% of the fund will go to rural and financially disadvantaged communities. This grant program is intended to help communities with CSO, SSO and stormwater infrastructure investments.
The Alternative Source Water Pilot Program and the Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Grant Program will each receive $125 million over the next five years. Wastewater and stormwater reuse and aquifer recharge are included in the pilot program. Improved stormwater management will be a priority for the grant program.
The Stormwater Infrastructure Technology Program will receive $25 million to create five Stormwater Centers of Excellence to identify stormwater BMPs and technologies. New Stormwater Infrastructure Planning/Development and Implementation Grants program will get $50 million to help communities develop stormwater programs and projects, as well as implement BMPs and infrastructure investments.
EPA will get $5 million to complete the Clean Watershed Needs Survey and better data about the nation’s stormwater infrastructure needs. It will help prioritize current and future federal and state funding.
Equally important to those new programs was the reauthorization and increased funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CW SRF). It will receive $11.7 billion in guaranteed funding over the next five years and is eligible to receive $14.5 billion in additional appropriations in fiscal years 2022 – 2026.
There’s an additional $1 billion guaranteed through the CW SRF for emerging contaminants, such as PFAS, microplastics, pesticides, etc. Also, the WIFIA program was reauthorized at $50 million per year, which will amount to roughly $5 billion in low-interest federal loans.
Stormwater infrastructure projects are eligible for both CW SRF and WIFIA funding, albeit both programs have historically underfunded stormwater projects. With this increased funding, the EPA and state infrastructure financing authorities will hopefully commit to helping communities with their stormwater infrastructure investment needs.
The WEF 2021 MS4 Needs Survey found there to be an annual stormwater infrastructure funding need of $8.5 billion for communities to meet their regulatory compliance obligations. And the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2021 Infrastructure Report Card gave a grade of D to our nation’s stormwater infrastructure conditions.
Water Week will be held April 24-30, 2022 in Washington, D.C. To learn more about how to participate in Water Week, visit: https://www.waterweek.us/.
To learn more about the WEF SWI, visit: https://wefstormwaterinstitute.org/.