U.S. Senate approves S.2848 on September 15, 2016

S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act, would authorize $70 million under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program, and $100 million under the State Revolving Fund program for systems with drinking water emergencies. Similarly, H.R. 5303: Water Resources Development Act of 2016 passed the House on September 28, 2016. S. 2848’s wording is such:
Subtitle A–Drinking Water

(Sec. 7101) The Safe Drinking Water Act is amended to allow the EPA’s capitalization grants for state drinking water revolving funds to be used to provide loans to public water systems for: (1) planning, design, siting, and associated preconstruction activities; or (2) replacing or rehabilitating aging treatment, storage, or distribution facilities or providing for capital projects to upgrade security.

Funds may also be used by public water systems as a source of revenue (restricted solely to interest earnings of a state loan fund) or security for payment of the principal and interest on state bonds issued to provide state matching contributions under the EPA’s capitalization program, if the proceeds of the sale of the bonds will be deposited in the state loan fund.

(Sec. 7102) In the annual plans that states prepare to identify the intended uses of their loan funds under the capitalization program, states must prioritize projects that: (1) address the most serious human health risks, (2) ensure compliance with safe drinking water requirements, (3) assist systems most in need on a per-household basis according to state affordability criteria, and (4) improve system sustainability.

States must give greater weight to loan applications by community water systems with utility management best practices, asset replacement schedules, financing plans with lifecycle costs, restructuring options, activities consistent with watershed plans, and conservation measures.

States must update biennially a list of projects that are eligible for assistance from the capitalization loan program.

(Sec. 7103) To administer state loan funds, states may use: (1) any fees collected by the state for use in covering reasonable costs of administration of programs under the fund; and (2) $400,000, a specified percentage of the current valuation of the fund, or 4% of all grant awards to the fund for the fiscal year, whichever is greatest.

(Sec. 7104) States may use capitalization grants to implement source water protection plans, subject to fiscal year limitations.

(Sec. 7105) For communities of more than 10,000 individuals, a contract to be carried out using state revolving funds shall be negotiated in the same manner as: (1) a federal contract for architectural and engineering services based on demonstrated competence and qualification at a fair and reasonable price, or (2) an equivalent state qualifications-based requirement.

(Sec. 7106) The EPA must establish a program to award grants to community water systems serving disadvantaged communities (including communities that may become disadvantaged or communities of less than 10,000 individuals that do not have capacity to incur debt sufficient to finance a project) to carry out water quality testing and infrastructure investments necessary to comply with safe drinking water requirements. Priority must be given to communities with inadequate drinking water or wastewater systems.

(Sec. 7107) The EPA must establish a grant program for projects that reduce the level of lead in water for human consumption through replacement of service lines, testing, planning, corrosion control, and education. Excluded from the program are partial lead service line replacements if drinking water is delivered to a household through a publicly or privately owned portion of a lead service line.

Grant funds may be used to assist low-income homeowners in carrying out lead reduction projects, as long as the grant amount does not exceed the cost of replacing the privately owned portion of the service line.

If an entity uses grant funds to replace lead service lines, it must: (1) notify customers of the replacement of any publicly owned portion of the line; (2) inform each customer that it will replace the public portions only if the customer agrees to simultaneously replace the privately owned portions; and (3) demonstrate that it has considered multiple options for reducing lead in drinking water, including an evaluation of options for corrosion control.

(Sec. 7108) The EPA must appoint liaisons to minority, tribal, and low-income communities in each of its regional offices.

(Sec. 7109) Public water systems must notify their customers of lead concentration levels in drinking water that exceed lead limits under national primary drinking water regulations.

The EPA: (1) must notify the public within 15 days of the lead levels exceeding those limits if the public water system or the state does not notify the public, and (2) may notify the public or the local or state health department of the result of lead monitoring conducted by a public water system.

If a violation has the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health as a result of short-term exposure, notice must be provided to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and county health agencies.

(Sec. 7110) The EPA must require electronic submission of available compliance monitoring data by public water systems and states.

(Sec. 7111) The EPA must establish a voluntary school and child care lead testing program of grants to states to assist local educational agencies in voluntary testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care programs. The bill repeals the current program of federal assistance for state programs regarding lead contamination in school drinking water.

(Sec. 7112) The EPA’s WaterSense program is authorized to identify products, buildings, landscapes, facilities, processes, and services that may voluntarily bear a “WaterSense” label identifying them as meeting water-efficiency performance criteria. A WaterSense label shall not create an express or implied warranty.

(Sec. 7113) The EPA and the USDA must: (1) update their programs that provide drinking water technical assistance to include information on cost-effective, innovative, and alternative drinking water delivery systems; and (2) disseminate information on the cost effectiveness of alternative drinking water delivery systems, including wells, to communities and nonprofit organizations seeking federal funding for drinking water systems serving 500 or fewer persons. Applicants for funding for drinking water systems serving 500 or fewer persons must consider drinking water delivery systems sourced by publicly owned individual, shared, and community wells.

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