The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Water Systems and Drought Resilience

Aug 4, 2021

Arizonans may have already heard about…

  • … the historic $110 billion investment to upgrade America’s roads and bridges… 
  • … the $65 billion to deploy high-speed broadband, expand broadband internet access, and help families afford broadband service…
  • … the strongest investment ever in American public transit — including the biggest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak…

… but what else is included for Arizona in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act led by U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema?

Water Systems and Drought Resilience
Arizona’s health and economic opportunities depend on securing our water future. Historic drought conditions threaten the health and safety of Arizona communities. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes historic investments in strengthening and upgrading critical water systems and addressing drought.

  • Western Water Infrastructure: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $8.3 billion in building and strengthening water infrastructure throughout the American West, including for aging infrastructure, water storage and conveyance, water recycling and reuse, desalination, drought contingency plans, and dam safety. These resources would be available to Arizona localities, tribes, utilities, and others who handle major water projects — including counties confronting loss of ground water, such as Pinal Co.
    • Specifically, this funding includes $300 million for water reclamation operations under the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan. Of this funding, $250 million is for the Bureau of Reclamation to create or conserve 100,000 acre feet of water annually for the Lower Colorado River Basin at Lake Mead.
  • Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $23.4 billion to implement the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act that was previously approved by the Senate — expanding and strengthening drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.
    • Specifically, Senator Kyrsten Sinema secured a provision ensuring funding for ten water projects in the lower Colorado River Basin, which includes Arizona.
  • Aging Infrastructure: As part of the 2020 Consolidated Appropriations bill, Senator Kyrsten Sinema secured the creation of an Aging Infrastructure Account to invest in Western water infrastructure in need of major upgrades or replacement. As those facilities, most of which are more than 50 years old, continue to age, the issue of treating water thoroughly and in a timely manner only increases. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $3.2 billion into the Aging Infrastructure Account.
  • Ensuring Cleaner Water by Replacing Lead Pipes: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests a historic $15 billion for lead replacement and $10 billion to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination. 
  • Indian Water Rights Settlements: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides all necessary funding to complete all currently-authorized Indian Water Rights Settlements — including building out the infrastructure needed for the Southern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement with the Tohono O’odham Nation, completing the Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement, and funding the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Water Rights Settlement.
  • Western Area Power Administration: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $500 million in the Western Area Power Administration’s power purchase and transmission activities. The West and Midwest have, over the past year, been hit by worsening drought conditions and polar vortex, which has impacted WAPA’s reserve funds to purchase power on the open market. This funding will provide a critical infusion of funds to ensure that, as drought conditions worsen, WAPA does not deplete its power purchase funds.
  • Watershed Rehabilitation Programs: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $618 million for federal Watershed Programs that are critically important to Western and Midwestern states affected by drought. These programs — Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program — help federal, state, local, and Tribal governments protect and restore watersheds of up to 250,000 acres, to, among other goals, further the conservation and proper use of land in authorized watersheds. These programs also help rehabilitate aging dams that are reaching the end of their design lives. 

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (full text available HERE) proposes the strongest investment in America’s critical infrastructure in more than a century without raising taxes on everyday Americans.
The legislation is the result of bipartisan negotiations led by U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Rob Portman (Ohio), with Senators from both parties and President Biden. 
The proposal — currently being considered by the full Senate — is supported by groups including The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, The National Association of Manufacturers, The AFL-CIO, The National Retail Federation, The Bipartisan Policy Center, North America’s Building Trades Unions, the Outdoor Industry Association, The American Hotel and Lodging Association, The National Education Association, as well as more than 360 Mayors in all 50 states.