News Briefs: ​Dead Body Trapped in Lift Station Causes Wastewater Spill in San Diego

Also in this week's sewer and water news, lawmakers introduce a bill that aims to encourage competition among suppliers of construction materials for water infrastructure projects

Federal officials are saying a dead body that was found stuck in a Tijuana, Mexico, lift station is responsible for sewage backup that spilled 14.5 million gallons of wastewater into San Diego.

The body caused a buildup of trash around the lift station, which eventually plugged it up and caused the spill, which was a mix of treated and untreated wastewater.

Police in Mexico are investigating the death.

EPA Invites 38 Projects to Apply for WIFIA Loans

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting a total of 38 projects in 18 states to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. Together, the selected borrowers will apply for WIFIA loans totaling approximately $6 billion to help finance over $12 billion in water infrastructure investments and create almost 200,000 jobs.

“This announcement highlights billions of dollars in needed water infrastructure investments to upgrade aging infrastructure, reduce exposure to lead and emerging contaminants and improve the lives of millions of Americans across the country — all while creating almost 200,000 jobs,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

EPA’s WIFIA loans will allow communities across the country to implement projects to address national water priorities, including providing for clean and safe drinking water by reducing exposure to lead and emerging contaminants, addressing aging water infrastructure and developing water recycling and reuse projects. EPA received 51 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2019 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability.

USDA to Invest $201 Million Into Rural Water Infrastructure

In a similar announcement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will invest $201 million in 31 states to improve rural water infrastructure in 31 states.

“Modern, reliable and accessible infrastructure is critical to economic development and quality of life,” LaVoy says.

USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Eligible applicants include rural cities, towns and water districts. The funds can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

USDA is announcing investments today in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Encourage Competition Among Construction Materials Suppliers

Reps. Harley Rouda of California and Brian Babin of Texas recently introduced the Sustainable Municipal Access to Resilient Technology in Infrastructure (SMART in Infrastructure) Act, along with Reps. Grace Napolitano of California and Ralph Norman of South Carolina.

Currently, several municipalities have regulations in place that significantly restrict the types of materials available to be used for infrastructure projects. These regulations have increased costs and obstructed the adoption of innovative technologies, according to the lawmakers sponsoring the bill. The National Taxpayers Union estimates that opening competition for construction materials could save more than $371 billion on water infrastructure improvements.

This bill encourages modern, resilient solutions that use taxpayer dollars responsibly by:

  • Requiring fair and open competition among suppliers of construction materials for infrastructure projects that receive federal funding; and
  • Establishing an interagency task force to develop a comprehensive report on procurement processes and open competition for construction materials.

The SMART Infrastructure Act is capitalism at work — encouraging open competition and removing burdensome regulations while saving American taxpayers billions of dollars,” says Rouda. “As the federal government continues to fund critical infrastructure projects and members on both sides of the aisle seek to increase that investment across the country, we should encourage modern, resilient solutions that use taxpayer dollars responsibly.”


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