There has been renewed interest in infrastructure on Capitol Hill. A handful of new bills and packages aim to increase funding for infrastructural improvements in the U.S., ranging from water and wastewater to roads and electricity. If passed, these proposed bills and packages have the potential to create opportunities for local governments and utilities to bring their community services up to date.
Here are a couple of developments to keep your eye on in the coming months:
Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021
Of all the proposed infrastructure bills and packages, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA) is the most ambitious. It is essentially a $1.2 trillion plan that seeks to tackle a gamut of infrastructural upgrades, ranging from replacing every lead water service line in the U.S. to fixing tens of thousands of roads and bridges. This bill—recently passed in the U.S. Senate—also includes a five-year funding plan of $55 billion that would go towards upgrading and repairing water infrastructure, including drinking water, sewer and wastewater systems.
Here is a brief breakdown of what is included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021:
- Fix highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports and airports
- Ensure that clean drinking water is available to all (includes eliminating all lead service lines and the dangerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals)
- Upgrades on the power grid, including a focus on clean energy transmission
- Provision and installation of high-speed broadband to all Americans
- Increasing climate resiliency and natural disaster protection
- Reconnecting communities through the reconstruction of street grids, parks, and other infrastructure
- Investment in renewable energy and zero emission transit, such as electric vehicles
- Modernizing public transit
Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021
The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA) recently passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. The bill aims at upgrading aging water infrastructure and would provide $35 billion for water resource development projects. It would bolster funding into federal water infrastructure programs that already exist, as well as funnel money into the creation of new ones. The act would reauthorize funding into programs that would upgrade sewer and stormwater systems, eliminate lead in drinking water, assist small and disadvantaged communities, and much more.
Lead and Copper Rule
The EPA has updated their Lead and Copper Rule (LCRR) in an effort to ensure that drinking water is free of contaminants. New revisions to these EPA guidelines, along with other potential bills, require water utilities to inventory lead service lines. The most recent revisions that have been officially included in the LCRR place an emphasis on protecting children from lead exposure. Water quality testing is now required at schools and child care facilities. In addition to that, water utilities must notify the public when and where they have located service lines containing lead.
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What Does this Mean for Your Community?
This renewed focus on infrastructure could possibly lead to an increase in the volume of public works projects and asset management opportunities for your community. The Cityworks platform (Cityworks AMS, Cityworks PLL, and more)—coupled with Esri ArcGIS—can help your organization track and manage all your assets and field work in an intuitive way. Whether you are inventorying lead piping or repaving a road, Cityworks and ArcGIS allow you to create a system of record that organize, manage, and maintain your infrastructure data and workflows.