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A House appropriations subcommittee last week approved an FY23 spending bill that would fund EPA at $11.5 billion next year while delivering first-time funds for a newly authorized program to help midsize and large drinking water systems increase their resilience to climate and cyber threats.

The bill includes $1.126 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and $1.752 billion for the Clean Water SRF. Of the $2.88 billion total SRF appropriation, $934.7 million would be set aside for Community Project Funding – or earmarks – for 419 drinking water, wastewater, and storm water management projects across the country.

Further, the legislation includes $65 million for ten new water infrastructure grant programs authorized by last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). This sum includes $10 million for the Midsize and Large Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability Program, which will offer grants to help community water systems serving more than 10,000 people address climate, extreme weather, and cyber-related challenges. AMWA has been the water sector’s leading advocate for that new program and had fought for its inclusion in last year’s infrastructure law.

Other notable funding allotments include:

  • $72 million to leverage into as much as $12.5 billion worth of loans through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, with $5 million of those funds reserved to exclusively support loans to state infrastructure financing authorities;
  • $51 million for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water grants, nearly double the program’s FY22 level; and
  • $36 million for lead testing in schools and childcare centers, $8.5 million above FY22.

Overall, Interior-EPA programs are slated to receive one of the largest percentage increases, about 18 percent, of any of the 12 annual spending bills in fiscal 2023, even though the bill would provide slightly less than the $11.9 billion that President Biden proposed for EPA.

The subcommittee’s proposal would also provide a boost to environmental justice and scientific research on emerging contaminants by directing $301 million for environmental justice activities, about $201 million more above last fiscal year’s levels. Funding to EPA science and environmental programs would be boosted under the new bill as well. They would receive $4.67 billion, about $951 million more than current funding.

Additionally, EPA would receive $126 million for scientific and regulatory work on PFAS. That figure matches the president’s budget request and is greater than the $74 million the agency secured in fiscal 2022.

The full House Appropriations Committee will vote on the Interior-EPA spending bill this week, and the Senate is expected to offer its own EPA spending plan later this summer. The 2023 fiscal year begins on October 1, but lawmakers are unlikely to approve a final federal FY23 appropriations plan until after that date.