WASHINGTON—A new policy initiative authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that takes an innovative approach to modernizing critical water infrastructure—especially in rural areas often unable to afford upgrades to aging water systems—became law when President Donald Trump signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
The new approach—based off the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act introduced by Boozman earlier this year—was included as a provision in the comprehensive reauthorization of our nation’s water infrastructure programs. Boozman stood with the President in the Oval Office of the White House when he put his signature on the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
“I was proud to join President Trump as he signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 into law. I’m particularly pleased that it includes my innovative solution to updating our water and wastewater infrastructure. With this new tool in the toolbox, we will be able to help state and local governments overcome the barriers that have stalled water infrastructure improvements for far too long. Fixing our crumbling infrastructure is a national priority and this new policy initiative I authored creates another option for any community, including those in rural America, to address overdue water infrastructure upgrades,” Boozman said.
Specifically, Boozman’s provision included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 will:
- Combine the best aspects of State Revolving Funds (SRFs) with the leveraging power of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to make the process easier and more affordable for states to meet their underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs.
- Increase access to previously unavailable funding sources for small and medium-size communities, while removing high application fees which often prevent access to funds for rural communities.
- Provide a direct and politically viable path to providing dramatic increases in funding for our nation’s SRF programs that will help address the backlog of long-awaited local infrastructure projects.
- Allow thousands of vetted water and wastewater projects to receive funding without the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) having to process thousands of additional applications.
Boozman’s efforts have garnered praise from Arkansas and national water infrastructure advocates.
Dennis Sternberg, Executive Director of Arkansas Rural Water Association, applauded the policy update to extend these authorities to states.
“We are very pleased a version of Senator Boozman’s bill was included in the package. Small and rural communities have more difficulty affording public wastewater service due to lack of population density and lack of economies of scale. Rural America is very appreciative for the help,” Sternberg said.
President of the American Society of Civil Engineers Kristina Swallow, P.E., said the benefits of this approach will be felt nationwide.
“The SRF WIN provision secures a significant increase in investment for water infrastructure, which is sorely needed given our nation’s ‘D’ grade for drinking water and ‘D+’ grade for wastewater in the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. Sen. Boozman’s leadership and vision led to this new funding option that will improve our nation’s water infrastructure,” Swallow said.