Democrats at the U.S. House of Representatives have outlined their priorities for a fourth coronavirus relief bill, after the approval last week of an unprecedented $2 trillion emergency spending plan to address the economic fall from the coronavirus. They propose an infrastructure bill that would allocate more than $25 billion to water and waste water infrastructure in need of replacement, as well as to help with the payment of household water and waste water services, informs Bloomberg.
The funding assistance proposed for residential water bills would be similar to an existing federal programme that helps low income households to pay for home heating, to be funded with $1.5 billion.
Last January, House Democrats put forward a framework to invest $760 billion over five years in infrastructure renewal and new transformative projects, which included more than $50 billion for water-related infrastructure while reducing carbon emissions, improving safety and boosting the economy. Now there is increased interest in placing infrastructure at the core of the priorities for the fourth virus relief package.
The Democrats’ package proposes huge increases in water infrastructure, namely $22.9 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and $2.5 billion to support local drinking water networks with PFAs pollution. This would need the EPA to look into treatment methods to eliminate the chemicals from drinking water.
President Trump has restated his call for a $2 trillion infrastructure package, given the U.S. will be able to borrow long term due to current low-interest rates. But he also objected to including in it the Green New Deal or any related policies addressing climate change.
The Democrats’ proposal includes $34.3 billion for modernising and increasing the security of the electric grid, including $4 billion to make it more resilient to extreme climate events and adapt it to renewable energies, but does not include the Green New Deal, which is not supported by many House Democratic leaders.
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies welcomes the bipartisan focus on funding for clean water to help the country recover from COVID-19. ‘The nation’s public clean water utilities have tens of billions of dollars of construction projects in the pipeline that could employ thousands of Americans, and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress’, said chief executive Adam Krantz. The American Water Works Association also welcomes the proposal, as it would address long-standing local water infrastructure needs.