Water Infrastructure Legislation in the 116th
Congress: EPA, Reclamation, and U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers Provisions

Updated July 28, 2020
Legislation in the 116th Congress addresses water infrastructure activities of several federal agencies,
including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). This Insight highlights water infrastructure programs and
authorities administered by these three agencies that are included in four bil s:
 Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2, as passed by the House),
 Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA 2020; H.R. 7575, as reported to the
 Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (DWIA 2020; S. 3590, as reported to the
Senate), and
 America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020; S. 3591, as reported to the
Environmental Protection Agency
EPA administers several wastewater and drinking water infrastructure programs. These programs include
the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
(DWSRF) programs—both of which are implemented by the states—and the Water Infrastructure Finance
and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, among others.
AWIA 2020 would direct EPA to establish (subject to appropriations) several grant programs for
wastewater infrastructure projects. Program objectives vary and include resiliency and efficiency at
wastewater facilities and support for projects in lower-income or smal er-population communities. AWIA
would reauthorize appropriations for the CWSRF and require states to use not less than 10% of their
annual grants to provide additional subsidies (e.g., grants or loan forgiveness) to eligible recipients.
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CWSRF appropriations have included similar provisions since the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5). Additional y, AWIA would reauthorize appropriations for WIFIA and the Alaska
Native Vil ages grant program.
The Moving Forward Act would amend and reauthorize several infrastructure programs, including
programs that have never received appropriations. For several programs, the bil would establish funding
carve-outs for communities with populations under 10,000. Additional y, it would reauthorize
appropriations for the CWSRF and require states to use not less than 15% of their CWSRF grants for
specific project types (e.g., green infrastructure) and not less than 10% to provide additional subsidies to
eligible recipients. The bil would amend the CWSRF funding provisions for Indian tribes and U.S.
Drinking Water
An EPA-specific bil , DWIA 2020, would establish grant programs and revise Safe Drinking Water Act
(SDWA) and related assistance programs to support objectives including improving water system
resilience to natural hazards; reducing lead in drinking water; and assisting smal , rural, disadvantaged,
and/or tribal systems. Regarding the DWSRF, DWIA would (1) require states to provide 14% of their
annual grants as additional subsidies for disadvantaged communities; (2) reauthorize a DWSRF
appropriation set-aside for smal system technical assistance; and (3) expand eligible activities for the
DWSRF emerging contaminant grant program to include groundwater remediation of per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
. Additional y, DWIA would direct EPA to promulgate SDWA
regulations for certain PFAS.
The Moving Forward Act would reauthorize appropriations for the DWSRF program for FY2022 through
FY2025. The bil would reauthorize appropriations for several drinking water programs and establish a
grant program for certain water systems for improvements to remove al detectable PFAS.
Bureau of Reclamation
Pursuant to the Reclamation Act of 1902, Reclamation is responsible for the management and
development of many of the large federal dams and water diversion structures in the 17 conterminous
states west of the Mississippi River. The Moving Forward Act would incorporate portions of draft
Reclamation legislation released earlier this year by Representative Huffman
(CA-02), including creation
of an annual reporting process to identify certain Reclamation projects for potential congressional
authorization. It would extend and amend an authority under Section 4007 of the WIIN Act (P.L. 114-322)
that provides for construction of new or expanded state and federal y led surface and groundwater storage
projects, and it would extend grant authority for water reuse and recycling and desalination projects
provided under that act. It also would extend authority for several parts of Reclamation’s WaterSMART
The Moving Forward Act incorporates provisions related to certain Indian water rights settlements
involving the federal government. Among other things, it would authorize the Navajo Utah Settlement. It
would extend in perpetuity (beginning FY2031) $120 mil ion per year in mandatory appropriations for
the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund. These appropriations currently end after FY2029.
The Moving Forward Act would provide $15 bil ion for USACE construction and operation and
maintenance of projects for improving navigation, reducing flood risks, and restoring aquatic ecosystems.

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WRDA 2020 and Title I of AWIA 2020 would authorize USACE to perform water resource studies,
projects, and programs and would provide related direction to the Administration.
 WRDA 2020 would require USACE to update the agency’s guidance on assessing sea
level rise for coastal project planning. It would require USACE to adopt procedures to
include more consideration of environmental and social goals and effects in project
planning and establish cost-sharing and planning requirements for natural and nature-
based features.
 AWIA 2020 would expand USACE’s authorities to perform rural water supply projects
and to address aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. AWIA 2020 would require an
annual report from the Administration to congressional authorizing and appropriations
committees that identifies USACE-authorized studies and projects available for
The Moving Forward Act and WRDA 2020 include provisions on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
(HMTF). In the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136), Congress made future funds provided to USACE from the
HMTF not count toward annual budget caps for an amount equal to the prior year’s HMTF deposits. The
Moving Forward Act and WRDA 2020 would alter the budget enforcement rules, through a spending cap
adjustment for the amount provided to USACE from the HMTF, for activities designated as harbor
operations and maintenance. WRDA 2020 also would alter distribution targets for HMTF-funded
activities and al ow for the trust fund to pay for a broader set of activities.
WRDA 2020 and AWIA 2020 would adjust the role of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). The
bil s would reduce the IWTF contribution toward the costs of inland and intracoastal waterway
construction from 50% to 35%, thereby al owing for more federal investment toward these construction
projects. The WRDA 2020 reduced IWTF contribution would apply from FY2021 through FY2027.

Author Information

Nicole T. Carter
Jonathan L. Ramseur
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Specialist in Environmental Policy

Elena H. Humphreys
Charles V. Stern
Analyst in Environmental Policy
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

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