By Miriam Hacker, Ph.D

Senior Implementation Lead

The Water Center at Penn

March 8, 2022

Big strides have been made recently with the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). With over $55 billion allocated for water and wastewater infrastructure, this bill is said to be the ‘single largest investment in water infrastructure in the nation’s history.’ This is a major win for the water sector and requires planning to ensure that communities are ready and prepared when funding is dispersed. The Environmental Protection Agency will help with distributing a majority of the funding through State Revolving Funds (SRFs) as part of the Clean Water Act; a quick look at a memo sent last December shows a projected amount of $240 million for projects in Pennsylvania.

Addressing inequity in water systems is a critical part of the bill, specifically linked to lead service line replacement, PFAs and other emerging contaminants, and ensuring that resources are allocated to previously disadvantaged communities. To support this process, the US Water Alliance has recently released Principles for Equitable Infrastructure Implementation, which include: 

  • Prioritize community needs and ownership. 
  • Partner for greater impact.
  • Maximize economic opportunity.
  • Protect the planet.
  • Embrace transparency and creativity.
  • Invest for the future and build in flexibility.

The Water Center has previously discussed key aspects of successful locally led initiatives to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in Southwestern PA, and anticipation of IIJA is no exception. The SW PA Water Network is a space for leveraging existing efforts and helping water professionals in the region connect over potential collaboration. This month, the Network is hosting an informal networking session: Building relationships to maximize water Infrastructure funding in SW PA (more information below)

On March 23, Network members will have space to exchange information, but more importantly connect with others who are also thinking about how this funding will be distributed in the area. Many well-curated webinars and information sessions have been hosted across the country to better understand what is in the IIJA and how funding will be distributed; this informal networking session focuses on how local stakeholders are talking about this funding opportunity and thinking about potential for joint collaboration across organizations and sectors to fully utilize funding for ‘greater impact’. This initial conversation centers local voices and builds on the first and second principles for equitable infrastructure implementation.

We are in a historic moment for water and wastewater infrastructure in the US. With federal attention and funding, it is critical that communities are mobilized and ready to maximize this peak in interest for increasing the resilience and sustainability of our water and wastewater networks. 

 

Event information:

Building relationships to maximize water Infrastructure funding in Southwestern PA

March 23rd, 12 – 1pm

Virtual event – to join, register here.