Monday August 1, 2022

Water Finance and Management

The Senate last week approved its 2022 version of the Water Resources Development Act, biennial legislation that authorizes a variety of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects and studies. The Senate’s amended version of H.R. 7776 passed by a tally of 93–1, and it will now be used to negotiate a final water resources package with the House of Representatives.

The Senate-approved WRDA bill would authorize 36 new Army Corps feasibility studies. Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives approved its own WRDA proposal that carried authorizations for 72 feasibility studies, among other provisions.

According to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, neither the House nor Senate WRDA proposals touch on drinking water or wastewater policy at EPA this year, a departure from recent practice but an expected development given the numerous water and wastewater provisions included in last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The two chambers will begin negotiations to reach a final WRDA agreement, with passage expected before the end of the year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also released its proposed versions of all twelve fiscal year 2023 spending bills in July, including an Interior-EPA measure that would provide less overall funding to the EPA than the plan passed by the House and requested by the president’s budget. Despite a consistent pattern of providing less programmatic funding than the House bill, the Senate bill would provide a modest increase in funding to state revolving funds and give EPA funding to assess low-income water ratepayer assistance needs.

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