WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, with an 89-2 vote, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, foster economic growth, enhance the health and well-being of families across the nation, and address environmental justice. The bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA), which contains key wins for Ohio’s water infrastructure that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped secure, now heads to the House for consideration. Brown vows to fight for full funding of these programs once the bill is signed into law.

“I always hear from mayors and community leaders across Ohio about the struggles to afford expensive – but vital – renovations to outdated water and sewer systems,” said Brown. “We’re on the verge of delivering bold, historic wins for Ohio, with water infrastructure investments that will lead to cleaner, safer drinking water built with American products supporting American jobs.”

The bill includes provisions to:

  • Authorize more than $1 billion in a Combined Sewage Overflow grant program over the next five years to help communities like Akron, Lima, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Fremont, and more than 60 others across Ohio deal with this challenge.
  • Reauthorize both the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds, which expires at the end of 2021. This nearly $30 billion investment over five years will provide critical funding to states to upgrade aging infrastructure, including lead pipes, and address water quality to provide safe drinking water and reduce pollution in our lakes and rivers.
  • Authorize $550 million annually in new grant programs to help low-income households connect to existing drinking water or wastewater treatment systems.
  • Authorize $100 million annually through fiscal year 2026 for lead pipe replacement, with priority for low income communities, households, and landlords that provide housing to low income renters.
  • Authorize $500 million for water infrastructure resiliency and sustainability grant programs, which award grants to communities to increase the resiliency or adaptability of water systems to natural hazards, including extreme weather events due to climate change. This new program will help communities on Lake Erie dealing with record high water levels.  
  • Create a new pilot grant program to assist qualifying households with maintaining access to affordable drinking water and wastewater treatment. As the pandemic has shown more than ever, access to clean water is essential.  
  • Update to existing programs and establishes new funding for programs to replace lead pipes and reduce lead in drinking water, authorized at $690 million.
  • Permanently require that all iron and steel products used to drinking water infrastructure projects comply with Buy America.

Brown has been fighting to secure funding for programs that help communities, large and small, update critical water and sewer systems.

In 2018, Brown’s Water Resources Development Act was signed into law, authorizing more than $2 billion in funding that Brown worked to secure in order to help Ohio communities invest in clean waterThe bill helps Ohio communities invest in water infrastructure and provide funds for schools to test for lead in their water systems. Brown also fought to make sure the bill included strong Buy America provisions to ensure that water infrastructure projects are completed with American parts and by American workers.

In 2016, Brown slammed Washington leadership for stripping Buy America rules from the final water infrastructure. Buy America provisions in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) would have permanently changed the law to require the use of American-made iron and steel products in infrastructure projects.