2022: Finally Our Year

Jan. 12, 2022
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Welcome to the January 2022 issue of WaterWorld magazine. As we enter the new year, I am excited for what’s to come for the water, wastewater, and stormwater industries. An influx of funding from the federal government was earmarked for the sector in late November and December of last year, meaning that many long-deferred infrastructure projects will soon get the attention they deserve.

In fact, I was humbled and honored to host several industry leaders during a live webcast to discuss the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) — the landmark legislation that earmarked $55 billion for clean water and water infrastructure projects. Tommy Holmes, legislative director of the American Water Works Association (AWWA); Kristina Surfus, managing director of government affairs with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA); Steve Dye, legislative director for the Water Environment Federation (WEF); and Vanessa M. Leiby, executive director of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) each discussed different aspects of the new legislation, followed by a robust Q&A session.

The landmark legislation builds on other water infrastructure investment opportunities from within the last year, including the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act and the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. While the passage of a $2.2 trillion version of the Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives made headlines for allocating $10 billion for lead remediation, $1.85 billion for sewer overflow and stormwater reuse grants, and $225 million to reduce water rates for low-income customers, the fate of this legislation was up in the air at the end of 2021.

On page 8, author Daniel Gaddy rounds up these and other items to watch in the coming months. He writes, “these pieces of legislation have guaranteed that 2022 will be a year of massive water infrastructure investments.”

Indeed, recent legislative efforts represent some of the largest investments in the water industry in a decade, though some leaders say it may not be enough. Industry advocates will be required to pay more attention than ever to what happens on Capitol Hill this year.

“[The funding is great, but] there are still a lot of things that need to go through the appropriations process,” WEF’s Dye said on the webcast. “It’s really important that stakeholders continue to push for appropriations going forward.”

In fact, a new series of Buy America requirements under the IIJA will be massively expanded for the water sector.

“The new Buy America requirements apply to all federal agencies and sectors,” WWEMA’s Vanessa Leiby said during the webcast, “including drinking water and wastewater, and for both loans and grants. All processes, from melting to coating [for iron and steel], must be done in the US. It can’t leave the country and come back. In addition, the new requirements apply to all manufactured goods and an expanded list of construction materials, including PVC.”

On page 27, Leiby lays out her New Year’s resolutions, including efforts to “find a way to solve our supply chain issues and ensure that we have the goods and technologies we need to do our jobs, provide safe drinking water and a clean environment, and ensure that our cutting-edge technologies can be used around the world to solve the many pressing climate and humanitarian needs.”

As we move forward, I want to echo these sentiments as I wish you health and hope that we can come out of the next year stronger and more resilient than before. WW

Published in WaterWorld magazine, January 2022.

About the Author

Alanna Maya | Chief Editor

Alanna Maya is a San Diego State University graduate with more than 15 years of experience writing and editing for national publications. She was Chief Editor for WaterWorld magazine, overseeing editorial, web and video content for the flagship publication of Endeavor's Water Group. In addition, she was responsible for Stormwater magazine and the StormCon conference.

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