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October 16, 2018  |  Written by Michelle E. Chester

Congress Passes Comprehensive Water Infrastructure Bill Changing Authorized Spending for Water Projects

A broad-sweeping water infrastructure bill passed Congress with ease.  After being introduced in June 2018, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021) passed with bipartisan support in September 2018, and heads to President Trump for signature.  The bill authorizes funding for a range of water infrastructure projects—including groundwater storage facilities, safe drinking water, flood risk reduction, and hydropower projects—and de-authorizes funding for projects deemed to no longer be viable for construction.  America’s Water Infrastructure Act will impact the changing power generation market, as well as licensing procedures and program requirements of a broad range of water industries if, as predicted, President Trump signs the bill.

One of the key provisions of the bill is an amendment to the Federal Power Act (S. 3021 § 3001) that streamlines the permitting process for hydropower projects.  Specifically, the amendments lengthen the duration of preliminary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permits and provides for longer extensions of these permits.  The bill also increases the time limit for construction of approved projects.  These proposed changes in the law are geared at aiding hydropower projects through the approval processes in order to promote development.

The bill also calls for de-authorization and modification of projects previously authorized by Congress, but which are considered no longer viable for construction due, in part, to a lack of local support or available resources (S. 3021 § 1301).  The purpose of this section is to identify $4 billion in water resources development projects that may contribute to the continued authorization of relevant and viable water resources development projects.

Additionally, the bill includes provisions amending the Safe Drinking Water Act, including a lead testing grant program enhancement, and programmatic changes to drinking water infrastructure programs.

A copy of the legislation is available here.

For additional information on S. 3021, and other water infrastructure and licensing issues, please contact Michelle Chester at mchester@somachlaw.com or 916-446-7979.

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