Trump Signs Water Infrastructure Bill into Law

Holly Kellum
By Holly Kellum
October 24, 2018Politicsshare

President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan water infrastructure bill into law on Oct. 23 that its sponsors described as a step forward for infrastructure, the economy, and public health.

The bill, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA), gives more resources to communities for flooding, to maintain ports and harbors, to expand water storage, and to improve irrigation, wastewater and drinking water systems, among other things.

It also seeks to cut down on spending by creating a list of projects to be deauthorized.

“This bipartisan law authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct, expedite, modify or study more than 100 water resource projects,” Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in a USA Today op-ed. “These important projects will create jobs here at home and spur economic growth. They will keep our waterways open to make it easier for American products to reach markets around the globe, keeping us competitive for years to come.”

The bill increases the involvement of local communities in prioritizing Army Corps projects because “those on the ground often understand the needs of their communities best,” the sponsors of the bill wrote.

The bicameral legislation passed with 99 votes in the Senate and one lone “no” vote by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Drinking Water

The act authorizes $4.4 billion in drinking water revolving loan funds over the next three years to help states comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act by taking out loans to build and maintain drinking water systems.

It also allocates $20 million for a program to improve water infrastructure systems on Indian reservations from 2019 to 2022.

For communities struggling to deal with or prevent contaminants in their water supply, the act allows states to apply for a grant from the federal government. Possibly in a nod to the Flint water crisis, the bill also includes language to hold any person or entity responsible for paying back the grant money if they “caused or contributed” to the contamination.

Under the bill, schools can apply for grants to replace drinking fountains manufactured before 1988 or to test lead levels in school drinking water.

“The events that produced elevated lead levels in the water in Flint, Michigan, were both tragic and avoidable,” wrote the sponsors. “All parents—no matter what ZIP code they live in—should have confidence that the water coming out of their tap is safe for their kids to drink. These same assurances should extend to schools as well.”

Flooding

The legislation seeks to prevent flooding by maintaining dams, levees, beaches, and wetlands through the financing of certain infrastructure projects.

The Secretary of the Army must report to Congress about urban flooding and what federal policy constraints there are to addressing them. It also appropriates $60 million more for the rehabilitation of dams constructed by the Army Corps than is currently in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, and extends the National Dam Safety Act through 2023.

Workforce Development

To encourage jobs in the water utility sector, the act creates a grant program that institutions or organizations can apply to workforce and career development events, internships, and training in the water utility sector or that connect people to water utility jobs. The program was allocated $1 million for the years 2019 and 2020.

“As a candidate, I called for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure and we’re taking another major step toward that goal,” Trump said during the signing of the bill. “I am particularly proud that this legislation extends a requirement that protects … projects supported by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund use construction materials—all made in the U.S.A.”

“Under this administration, we are living by two simple but very important rules—buy American and hire American.”

After signing the bill, Trump turned to Pastor Andrew Brunson, who came into the Oval Office with Vice President Mike Pence after a meeting. He gave Brunson the pen he signed the bill with, telling him it was a “very important pen” because it was a “very important water bill.”

“God has blessed us with many natural resources as a country, and we need to be grateful to him,” Brunson said while accepting the pen.

After telling the Democrats who worked on the legislation that he planned to work more with them on infrastructure bills, he gave them a pen for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

From The Epoch Times

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