News Briefs: President Trump Signs America's Water Infrastructure Act

In other sewer and water news, a recent report shows 1.4 million people in the United States had their water service shut off in 2016

Marking the final step of a rare bipartisan effort by Congress, President Donald Trump recently signed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 into law in an effort to help communities across the nation improve the safety and reliability of drinking water and wastewater systems.

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 will:

  • Significantly increase annual, federal investment on water and wastewater infrastructure from approximately $2 billion to over $7 billion per year.
  • Improve the efficiency and timeliness of the WIFIA Loan approval process.
  • Allow states to fast-track existing, approved and permitted projects with the “no new reviews” provisions.
  • Safeguard existing Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act state-revolving funding from cuts – no funding for WIFIA unless existing SRFs are fully funded.

The bill marks the most comprehensive infrastructure legislation passed this Congress and would authorize federal funds for water projects, including post-Harvey wetland restoration, the U.S. EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and hydropower projects.

“This legislation invests in the critical water infrastructure we don’t see every day, but that American families in every state rely on, such as drinking water systems, dams, reservoirs, levees and ports,” says Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Delaware).

Report Shows 1.4 Million People Lost Water Service in 2016

According to a recent report by a Washington-based nonprofit group called Food & Water Watch, an estimated 1.4 million U.S. residents in more than 500,000 households lost water service in 2016 after falling behind on bills.

The study is the first of its kind, and it publishes information received from inquiries into 2016 residential water service shut-off records from the two largest water suppliers in each state.

Cities with the highest shut-off rates were Detroit, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; Springdale, Arkansas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Former Utility Official Pleads Guilty to Lying About Lead Contamination

A former water utility official for a vacation community in Potosi, Missouri, pleaded guilty in federal court to lying about lead exposure in the community’s drinking water.

The official, Dale Johansen of Johansen Consulting Services, handled drinking water service for the community between 2012 and 2017. An inspection reportedly revealed that Johansen’s lead-reduction system was inoperative, and he told auditors it had been offline for six or eight weeks. An investigation found that it was offline for closer to six months.

Johansen faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.


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