Water Leaders Step Up for the Planet

Katy Lackey, Director of Climate Action, US Water Alliance | May 25, 2022

Good climate news is hard to find these days. Summer is heating up, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest forecast indicates all 50 states can expect record hot temperatures, with two-thirds of the US likely to experience rolling blackouts. More attribution studies confirm climate change is making heatwaves and storms more severe, linking billions of dollars in damage. Many of these changes are already locked in, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Meanwhile, our window to avert the worst of what’s to come is rapidly closing.  | More >

What it Means to Support Equitable State Investments in Water Infrastructure

Emily Simonson, Director of Strategic Initiatives, US Water Alliance | May 16, 2022

The current federal and state system of water infrastructure funding is designed to improve the way we move, treat, or store water, wastewater, or stormwater. It’s not inherently designed to target disparities in infrastructure quality and service. Addressing these disparities requires reimagining the dominant ways water is funded in the United States. At the same time, the water investments coming through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are already slated to flow through long-standing channels, so those who care about advancing equity must continue to innovate within this existing system. | More >

Centering Water Equity in Capital Projects: Applying Equitable Infrastructure Principles Across the Infrastructure Cycle

Emily Simonson, Director of Strategic Initiatives, US Water Alliance | April 1, 2022

Water infrastructure is the backbone of thriving communities and ecosystems. With the historic federal investment into our water systems, water utilities and those who work closely with them can lead the charge to help ensure new dollars don’t lead to business-as-usual outcomes. The US Water Alliance’s Equitable Infrastructure Principles aspire to ensure federal water investments and outcomes are equitable, resilient, and capable of delivering multiple benefits, but can only do so when applied across the infrastructure cycle. In this way, water investments can strongly contribute to everyone's ability to thrive—which is more important now than ever, as we collectively face aging and failing water infrastructure, climate impacts, pollution, emerging contaminants, cyber threats, workforce shortages, and increasing economic inequality. | More >

Washington DC Update—March 2022

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | March 30, 2022

March has been an active month on the policy front. Continuing the work of the last several months and coming right down to the wire of the March 11 deadline, Congress managed to agree on and pass a $1.5 trillion omnibus appropriations package to fund the government through the remainder of FY22. Of note is that $2.77 billion of the omnibus has been allocated for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), which is equal to the 2021 enacted level. This is good news, as some had feared that the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—which was always intended to supplement infrastructure appropriations—might cause a reduction. Those fears appear to be unfounded, as $2.77 billion will go out on top of the money in year one of IIJA.  | More >

Imagination Team Unveils Net Zero Plus: A 2050 Vision and Cultural Transformation for Water’s Role in Climate Mitigation

Katy Lackey, Director of Climate Action, US Water Alliance | March 22, 2022

Conversations on climate action are evolving to include water as part of the solution to our rapidly changing environment. Climate stresses are often felt as water stresses; from more droughts and fires to sea level rise and increasingly severe flooding from hurricanes and storm surges. For decades, the water sector has developed and implemented innovative strategies to better manage these impacts, adapt to our changing climate, and foster utility and community resilience. With the water sector increasingly hit by billion-dollar disasters and serving communities facing compounding climate impacts, many water professionals want to do more.  | More >

Washington DC Update—February 2022

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | February 28, 2022

There are several factors slowing progress in Congress and leading to uncertainty. Congress’s attention has been occupied for much of February on funding for FY22—which we are now five months into. After passing the third Continuing Resolution earlier this month to continue funding the government and avoid a government shutdown, leadership on both sides of the aisle have stated their continued commitment to passing an appropriations omnibus package that will fully fund the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year (through September 30). Expectations remain optimistic to get this FY22 package across the finish line by the new deadline of March 11. | More >

Thriving in Place Through Water Investment: Principles for Equitable Infrastructure

Emily Simonson, Director of Strategic Initiatives, US Water Alliance | February 24, 2022

Signed into law in 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is the largest federal investment in water infrastructure in 50 years—a vital down payment on investments long needed in water and for communities. This opportunity provides the water sector a moment to re-envision the power and possibilities of infrastructure investments. This is a moment to center water equity, climate action, economic opportunity, and One Water in water infrastructure and capital projects. The following Principles for Equitable Infrastructure Implementation provide some guidance for water and wastewater utilities, community partners, planners, engineers, architects, environmental justice leaders, educators, artists and culture bearers, and residents to work collaboratively to make the most of this moment | More >

California Illuminates Strategies for Community-Driven Utility Consolidations and Partnerships

Emily Simonson, Director of Strategic Initiatives, US Water Alliance | February 22, 2022

Conversations about utility cooperation models—like partnerships, regionalization, consolidation—picked up significantly in the Summer of 2020. At the height of pandemic restrictions, smaller utilities had a harder time managing protracted revenue shortfalls, backfilling for essential workers who fell ill, and implementing emergency measures. Yet cooperation models are not the only solutions available, and when not community-driven, they can have serious negative externalities concerning utility governance, affordability, and water democracy. | More >

Washington DC Update—January 2022

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | January 24, 2022

With the fate of the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better stalled without the support of Senators Joe Manchin (D-WC) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), some Senate Democrats have been mulling the idea of breaking the Build Back Better into a series of smaller bills. President Biden also acknowledged that passing pieces of the bill might provide a path forward, especially given Senator Manchin’s support of the $555 billion climate provision. However, it may be that the Senate won’t have multiple opportunities to use the budget reconciliation process, which enables Democrats to pass legislation with a simple majority. Also at play is whether or not another scaled-back package, or packages, would receive support from progressives, so it is not yet clear how Congress will proceed. Additionally, this month saw the release of final guidance from the Treasury Department about infrastructure funding in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). | More >

Washington DC Update—November 2021

Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance | November 23, 2021

November has certainly been a historic month for infrastructure—specifically water infrastructure. After being passed by the Senate back in August, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, known colloquially as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package) languished in the House. This was largely due to disagreement on a second piece of legislation, the Build Back Better Act (the Democrats-only social spending and climate bill, also referred to as the Reconciliation bill). Progressives in the House had hoped for a bigger infrastructure bill (closer to what the President proposed back in March in his American Jobs Plan) but were okay to stomach a smaller bill in hopes of getting more of their priorities into a larger reconciliation bill that wouldn’t need bipartisan support. | More >