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

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

Updated September 25, 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 passed by 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 programs to support objectives, such as 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 DWSRF appropriations for FY2022 through FY2025. The
bil would extend the authorization of appropriations for several drinking water grant programs; revise an
SDWA lead reduction program; and establish grant programs to address contaminants, such as PFAS and
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 both would alter how USACE performs its water resource activities.
 WRDA 2020 would require USACE to update its planning guidance for assessing sea
level rise. It would require 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 Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) provisions.
The CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) made future HMTF funds provided to USACE 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 further alter budget enforcement rules for activities designated as harbor operations
and maintenance, through a spending cap adjustment for the amount provided to USACE from the
HMTF. WRDA 2020 also would alter distribution of HMTF funds across various categories of eligible
activities and al ow the fund to pay for a broader set of activities.
WRDA 2020 and AWIA 2020 would reduce the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) contribution
toward the costs of inland and intracoastal waterway construction from 50% to 35%, potential y al owing
for more federal investment toward construction by not requiring as high an IWTF cost share. Under
AWIA 2020, the reduced contribution would be a permanent change; under WRDA 2020, it 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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