Historic investment in clean water and rivers is important step for public health, safety and economy

August 10, 2021

American Rivers statement on bipartisan infrastructure bill 

August 10, 2021 

Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

American Rivers applauds the Senate and the Biden Administration for advancing a bipartisan infrastructure bill that makes critical investments for clean water and rivers. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) includes $55 billion for water infrastructure — the largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater in our nation’s history.  American Rivers urges the House of Representatives to quickly pass this critical infrastructure package which provides essential benefits for communities nationwide.   

Notably, H.R. 3684 provides over $43 billion for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds. This investment will fund lead service line replacement ($15 billion), grants for small and disadvantaged communities ($510 million), sewer overflow and stormwater reuse grants ($1.4 billion), and the Indian Reservation drinking water program ($250 million), as well as studies on advanced clean water technologies and historical distribution of funds to disadvantaged communities. 

The bill also includes $1.6 billion for dam removal and dam safety — a necessary down payment for restoring healthy, free-flowing rivers and protecting communities from outdated, dangerous dams. Additionally, there is $753 million for environmental improvements, dam safety, and grid resilience at hydropower dams. Other sizeable investments include $3.5 billion for Flood Mitigation Assistance, $1 billion for Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, $1.5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aquatic ecosystem restoration projects. 

Western Water Infrastructure would receive $8.3 billion, funding programs related to aging water infrastructure, water storage, water recycling and reuse, the waterSMART program, and drought contingency plans. 

While these dollars are a promising start, substantial investment will be needed in the forthcoming reconciliation package. Our 2021 Blueprint for Action outlines the need for $200 billion to improve water infrastructure, $200 billion to modernize flood management, and $100 billion to restore watersheds nationwide. 

Tom Kiernan, President of American Rivers, made the following statement: 

“This historic investment underscores the importance of clean water and healthy rivers to our nation’s infrastructure and our future. I commend the Senate for the bipartisan cooperation that made this legislation possible.”  

“If you are a parent worried about the safety of your child’s drinking water, if you live downstream of an obsolete dam, if you’re a fisherman whose livelihood depends on a healthy river, or a rancher worried about your water supplies, you will benefit from investments in this infrastructure bill. At a time when climate change is impacting our rivers and water in ways that are impossible to ignore, this funding will help protect and strengthen communities nationwide. 

“We applaud Senators Carper and Capito for passing S.914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA), which served as the foundation for the clean water funding and provisions in H.R. 3684. These funds will begin to address longstanding inequities around access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water in Black, Latino and Indigenous communities. We also recognize Senator Rob Portman for his leadership ensuring the infrastructure bill includes necessary investments in dam removal and dam safety.” ###