Today, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill contains an increase of $238 million over five years for the Chesapeake Bay Program through EPA and an additional $11.715 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
Created in 1983, the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program is the glue that holds together the cleanup partnership of federal, state, and local governments, conservation groups, and educational institutions. The Bay Program’s current annual appropriation is $87.5 million. Both the House and Senate are proposing $90.5 million for the Bay Program in FY22. If that amount is finally passed by Congress, then the addition of $238 million over five years through the infrastructure bill would raise the actual annual funding to $138.1 million in the coming fiscal year.
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund, administered by EPA, provides key funding for local investments to reduce polluted runoff and upgrade sewage treatment facilities. Of this $11.715 billion, approximately 20 percent will come to the six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the District of Columbia.
Enactment of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, including the provision of this crucial support for Chesapeake Bay restoration, was made possible by the tireless efforts of the Biden administration and many members of Congress in the Chesapeake Bay delegation. The Choose Clean Water Coalition, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Chesapeake Bay Commission thank them for their steadfast dedication and support for clean water.
Choose Clean Water Coalition Director Kristin Reilly said:
“This historic investment in clean water through the bipartisan infrastructure bill is the latest in a string of victories increasing federal support to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program has steadily increased in recent years. With the funding from this legislation, the Bay Program’s funding has now risen more than 140 percent in ten years–from $57.371 million in FY12 to $138.1 million in FY22.
“This sustained and increased investment demonstrates the remarkable support for clean water and the many benefits it provides throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. While we have seen significant improvements in water quality, the work is by no means finished. These additional funds will help reduce pollution in the Bay and its waterways, especially as we approach the 2025 deadline to have all pollution reduction practices in place as part of the Bay's restoration effort.
“As the Choose Clean Water Coalition and its more than 260 member organizations work to leave a legacy of clean water to future generations, the infrastructure bill’s increased funding for the Chesapeake Bay and its waterways is a game-changer.”
Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said:
“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure that has been severely degraded. President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help save it. Time is running out.
“There are less than five years to go for states to fulfill their commitments to improve water quality. Much more still needs to be done, especially in reducing pollution from agriculture. But this is a good start. It will put practices in place that reduce pollution.
“Congress must also pass the Build Back Better Act, which would invest more than $28 billion nationwide in conservation funding to help farmers further reduce pollution and combat climate change.
“It is also imperative that EPA fulfill its Clean Water Act responsibilities and ensure that each jurisdiction is on track to comply with the Clean Water Act. We can finish the job but only if EPA holds the states accountable.”
Chesapeake Bay Commission Chair Delegate David Bulova said:
“The members of the Commission–the majority of whom are state legislators–are grateful to our federal legislative partners for their foresight and perseverance in bringing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to passage. As the member of the Chesapeake Bay Partnership representing the legislative branch of government, we fully understand and appreciate the challenges of the legislative process.
“Building upon a series of enhanced funding for the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Infrastructure Act adds significant funding to EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program at a critical juncture–only four years before the TMDL deadline of 2025. These funds will be used to directly implement best management practices to improve local water quality throughout the watershed, focusing on those place that provide the best return for each dollar spent.
“The enhancements to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund will directly support improvements at the local level for water infrastructure. Increasingly, we understand the critical roll these systems play in our daily lives, commensurate with ‘traditional’ infrastructure likes roads and bridges. Our local governments, water utilities, and similar organizations are ready to put this enhanced capacity to work.”
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