Last week, EPA released an implementation memorandum to guide state, local, and Tribal partners of the nearly $50 billion worth of additional State Revolving Fund (SRF) dollars that will be delivered to states via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). EPA’s memo provides information and guidelines on how the agency will award and administer supplemental SRF funds, but it fails to follow AMWA’s suggestion to allow additionally subsidized BIL funds to be made available for projects serving low-income residents that are not part of a state-defined “disadvantaged community.”
EPA’s memo reiterates the funding specifics for lead service line replacement should be for the replacement of the full line. It also notes that while states should prioritize funds for projects addressing PFAS, they have the flexibility to fund projects to remove any contaminant on EPA’s Contaminant Candidate List. The memo also explains that consistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), EPA “will reallot unobligated BIL funds after the second fiscal year of availability.”
The BIL specifies that 49 percent of DWSRF funds received by states through the law must be used to provide additional subsidization to "eligible recipients," a term that is not defined. AMWA wrote to EPA last month to request that the agency, therefore, allow these additionally subsidized funds to be offered to any project in any community that will benefit a low-income population. However, EPA’s memo instead requires that the additionally subsidized funds be directed to “state-defined disadvantaged communities” under SDWA. This will prevent many large drinking water systems from accessing the funds, though the memo also “strongly encourages” states to amend their disadvantaged community definition if it may act as a barrier to certain communities receiving funding.
“We applaud EPA for issuing its Implementation Memorandum to guide how states and communities can put these funds to work addressing priorities like the replacement of lead service lines, remediating PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and building resilience to a range of threats,” AMWA CEO Diane VanDe Hei said in a statement provided to the agency. “We look forward to working with EPA and states to ensure the BIL dollars are distributed in a manner that maximizes benefits to low-income ratepayers in communities across the country.”
EPA is hosting a webinar to discuss its memorandum on March 16 at 2 p.m. ET. Registration is required.