This week, with near-unanimous support, the U.S. Senate passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, cited as Senate Bill 3021. This votes follows a unanimous vote from the U.S. House of Representatives that approved the legislation last month. The Act authorizes the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program, reauthorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and allocates grant funding to innovative water technologies.
A key authorization in the Act is EPA’s voluntary WaterSense program. WaterSense assists in identifying and promoting water efficiency in myriad ways, including in products, buildings, landscapes and services. The benefits of WaterSense both economically and environmentally are extensive. WaterSense-labeled products and services are certified to use at least 20 percent less water, save energy and perform as well as or better than regular models. By the end of 2017, WaterSense helped households across America save a cumulative of 2.7 trillion gallons of water and more than $63.8 billion in water and energy bills. WaterSense fixtures can also qualify for up to five points toward LEED certification. The formal authorization of this program is a vital step in the right direction.
In addition, the Act reauthorizes the WIFIA program, which allocates funding and provides loans for regionally and nationally significant water infrastructure projects. The Act also creates a grant program in an effort to develop and implement water technologies that focus on addressing pressing water issues including drinking water supply, quality and treatment.
The inclusion of these nationally significant programs within America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 demonstrates the progress Congress has made on promoting water efficiency and security in the country.
USGBC has been a vocal advocate for the authorization of WaterSense and WIFIA. We commend Congress for their leadership in providing certainty for these important programs and urge the President to sign the bill without delay.