Senator Cramer Crafted This Legislation with His EPW Colleagues

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, issued the following statement today on the Senate passing bipartisan legislation he helped introduce, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021:

“The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act will ensure North Dakota’s small, rural, and tribal communities have access to safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs. Our bill is a great example of how Congress can work together to advance bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our nation. I am grateful my colleagues supported it, and I urge the House to do the same.”

The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 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 used to benefit small, disadvantaged, rural, and tribal communities. Specifically, if enacted, this bill 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 as well as new and emerging technologies that result in cleaner, safer, and more reliable water.

Senator Cramer and his colleagues introduced this legislation at the end of last month, and the EPW Committee moved quickly to pass it. The senator was joined in introducing the legislation by Senators Tammy Duckworth, the Chairwoman of the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife; 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).

Ranking Member Capito delivered remarks on the Senate floor ahead of today’s vote where she thanked Senator Cramer for his work on this issue.

“I also appreciate … my good friend Ranking Member Kevin Cramer for providing a lot of input into this legislation,” said Ranking Member Capito. “This has absolutely been a team effort.”

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.”