U.S. Senate Funding Bills Boost Clean Water, Great Lakes Investments
Federal interior and environment bill contains $350 million for Great Lakes restoration, $3.3 billion for water infrastructure.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (October 19, 2021)—The U.S. Senate released its nine remaining funding bills yesterday that boost federal investments to restore the Great Lakes, remove toxic lead from drinking water, confront sewage overflows, and reduce farm and city runoff pollution. The interior and environment spending bill contains $350 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and more than $3.3 billion to upgrade drinking water and sewage infrastructure. The boost in clean water priorities is more than was allocated in last year’s federal budget, although less than bills backed by the U.S. House.

“We are glad to see the U.S. Senate boost funding for essential clean water programs that people depend on for their drinking water, health, and quality of life,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Federal investments are producing results in local communities, although we know serious threats remain. We encourage House and Senate leaders, as well as the Biden Administration, to use all of the tools at their disposal to fully fund restoration efforts and to ensure every person in this country has access to clean, safe, and affordable water. This includes robust federal investments to protect the health of people and communities, as well as policy solutions that prevent pollution and further harm. Further, as climate change continues to exacerbate many threats – from sewage overflows to toxic algal blooms to flooding in neighborhoods – we encourage elected officials to act with urgency, purpose, and ambition so that we meet this moment with solutions that are commensurate to the threats at hand. Delay will make the problems worse and more expensive to solve.”

The release of the Senate funding bills comes as members of Congress discuss the fate of a $1 trillion infrastructure investment package and additional legislation to fund federal safety net and climate change programs. The Senate bills released yesterday will fund the U.S. government for fiscal year 2022, which goes from October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022. The next step of the process is for House and Senate negotiators to reach consensus on a final federal budget before a temporary budget deal expires in December.

The Senate proposal to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $350 million is $10 million above the Biden Administration’s budget request, but $25 million below the authorized levels of the program supported by the House. The Senate spending bill includes the following key programs:

  • Great Lakes Protection and Restoration
    • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $350 million – a $20 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
    • Invasive Carp funding: $36 million across U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey programs – a $0.4 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
  • Water Infrastructure
    • Over $3.3 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure programs.
      • Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $1.69 billion – a $50 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
      • Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $1.18 billion – a $50 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
      • An additional $439 million for Water and Wastewater Infrastructure grants is provided for Congressionally Directed Spending.
    • Sewer Overflow Grants: $56 million – a $16 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
    • Reducing Lead in Drinking Water: $72 million – a $50.5 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
  • Clean Water Protection
    • Clean water state grants: $235 million – a $5 million increase over fiscal year 2021.
    • Nonpoint pollution grants: $180 million – a $3 million increase over fiscal year 2021.

 

Since 2004, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has been harnessing the collective power of more than 170 groups representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at HealthyLakes.org or follow us on Twitter @HealthyLakes.