Some key federal water accounts got sizable spending hikes in 2018, thanks to shares of a Capitol Hill budget deal’s $10-billion overall infrastructure bonus. As 2019 numbers come into focus for Environmental Protection Agency and Agriculture Dept. water programs, they may get a piece of another expected $10-billion infrastructure infusion, but it looks like a further large boost isn’t in the cards. Still, their 2019 levels almost surely will top 2017 totals.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on June 14 approved an 2019 EPA bill with about $1.7 billion for the Clean Water state revolving fund (SRF), which helps pay for wastewater-treatment projects. That total is only $113,000 above 2018’s enacted level. For the drinking-water SRF, the bill would provide about $1.2 billion, up $1 million from this year.
The House Appropriations Committee’s version, which the panel cleared June 6, is less generous. It recommends about $1.5 billion for the Clean Water SRF and $1 billion for the drinking-water SRF. “We’re hopeful, of course, that the Senate numbers prevail,” says Kristina Surfus, National Association of Clean Water Agencies director of legislative affairs.
For the Agriculture Dept.’s rural water infrastructure, Senate appropriators approved a bill on May 24 calling for $958 million, down from about $1.1 billion in 2018, notes the National Rural Water Association. The House panel’s version, approved May 16, has $638 million.