The U.S. House of Representatives voted 412-4 and the U.S. Senate voted 91-7 to approve water resources legislation that aims to improve water infrastructure in U.S. The legislation includes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and others have been advocating for in recent years. Now the bill goes to President Obama for his signature to become law.
Technically, Congress approved House Report 113-449, the conference report to accompany H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. Most of the bill concerns Army Corps of Engineers projects. However, one section reauthorizes the wastewater state revolving loan fund program and expands the types of projects the SRF may fund. Another section of the bill establishes WIFIA.
The AWWA published a study prior to the passing of the legislation, indicating that the state of water and wastewater infrastructure is the top current issue facing water professionals and those they serve.
The AWWA State of the Water Industry Report addresses water issues as expressed by over 1,700 North American water experts.
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The need to address aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure has been a top area of concern for the AWWA and its members since the first State of the Water Industry Report was published in 2004. A 2012 AWWA study found that more than $1 trillion will be needed to replace and expand drinking water infrastructure alone over the next 25 years, and wastewater costs are thought to be similar.
With drought conditions persisting in California, Texas and elsewhere, the survey respondents rated several issues related to water resources as highly important. Long-term water supply availability was the second most important issue, groundwater management and overuse was sixth, watershed protection was seventh, and drought or periodic water shortages was eighth.
Sixty-four percent of respondents indicated long-term water supply was critically important, and less than 1 percent rated it as unimportant.
To view the AWWA State of the Water Industry Report, go here.