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EPW Introduces Water Bill, Emergency Aid for Flint

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leadership announced the introduction of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 on Tuesday. The measure would authorize 25 Army Corps projects in 17 states, provide for investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and promote technologies to address water resource needs, such as drought.

The bill would also provide $100 million in aid for states with drinking water infrastructure emergencies through the drinking water state revolving loan fund program and $70 million in credit subsidies to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to issue secured loans for infrastructure investments under the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act, a provision Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) originally said would be included in the Flint aid package dropped from the Senate’s energy bill. In fiscal 2017, $230 million will be set aside for a grant program to help disadvantaged communities comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The measure also includes a number of provisions to reduce lead in drinking water, such as providing funds to carry out a voluntary school and child care lead testing program.

“What happened in Flint has shown us how vulnerable some [of] our water systems are, and this bill is a perfect vehicle to upgrade our water infrastructure,” Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “In addition, many projects have been approved by the Corps of Engineers, and we need to authorize those.”

The committee will consider the measure on Thursday.