WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, joined Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), in introducing the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation to invest in our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure. The legislation, which resembles a bill Senator Cramer led as Chair of EPW’s Water Subcommittee last Congress, was unanimously passed through committee on Wednesday, March 24.

“Our bipartisan legislation ensures North Dakota’s small, rural, and tribal communities have access to safe drinking water and waste water infrastructure programs,” said Senator Cramer. “It is a wise investment and another example of the bipartisan infrastructure reforms Congress should pursue.”

The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA 2021) makes significant investments in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant programs and revolving loan funds which support the nation’s water infrastructure. It authorizes more than $35 billion for water resource development projects across the country with a focus on upgrading aging infrastructure, addressing resiliency, investing in new technologies, and providing assistance to marginalized communities. Of that $35 billion, more than 40 percent can be directly be used to benefit small, disadvantaged, rural, and tribal communities.

The legislation is supported by the Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, and the North Dakota Rural Water Systems Association.

“Small and rural communities appreciate Senator Cramer’s continued assistance in helping us keep North Dakota’s drinking water safe and expanding access to rural water supplies to needy families, farms and rural communities.  We thank Senator Cramer for becoming an original cosponsor on ‘The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act,’” said Eric Volk, Executive Director of North Dakota Rural Water Systems Association. “The legislation includes many helpful and beneficial provisions for rural and small-town North Dakota including the expansion of technical assistance, subsidized funding initiatives within the state revolving funds targeted to the communities with the greatest need, and new targeting of funding assistance to disadvantaged rural communities.  We also appreciate the fact that the legislation does not include any new federal unfunded mandates on local governments. The new initiatives in the bill will help us address current threats to our public drinking water supplies like sustainability of water infrastructure, resilience to extreme weather, improving the water workforce, and defending against cyberattacks.”

If enacted, this legislation would:

  • Invest significantly in small, disadvantaged, rural, and tribal communities through grant programs.
  • Provide states with increased funding and program flexibilities to invest in community water projects that address aging infrastructure and improve water quality through the State Revolving Loan Funds.
  • Connect households to public water and wastewater services, decentralized wastewater services, and improve sanitation in Alaskan rural and native villages.
  • Increase investments in lead abatement through grant programs and assistance.
  • Promote infrastructure resiliency to withstand extreme weather events. 
  • Increase investment to address recruitment, training, and retention challenges facing the water and wastewater utility workforce.
  • Invest in the drinking water and wastewater needs of tribal communities.
  • Provide significant investments in technical assistance and new and emerging technologies that result in cleaner, safer, and more reliable water.

Senators Cramer and Duckworth are joined in introducing the legislation by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the EPW Committee; Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife; and Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the EPW Committee. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), San Sullivan (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Alex Padilla (D-CA).