Water Utilities Get Huge Increase in Federal Funding

April 15, 2009

There are about 74,000 drinking water systems in the US, and they routinely need to upgrade their systems, to respond to population growth; aging pipes and facilities; ongoing contamination threats; and evolving perceptions of the best ways to treat water. Such spending rarely gets top billing — at least until brown water starts coming out of the faucet — so utility managers tend to readily accept assistance from any source they can tap.

The federal government is one source, through its State Drinking Water Revolving Fund program, that has been operating for years. The dollars available through that program have been slowly dwindling since 2002, but the Obama administration appears to be giving the fund much more emphasis. About $2 billion was allocated as additional funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the Stimulus). That amount, which is about 240% more than the initial FY 2009 allocation of $829 million, is expected to be available very soon. More evidence of the Obama administration's stance on this funding will become available in mid- to late-April 2009, when requested allocations for 2010-2013 are expected to be released.

Historically, every state gets some money. To see what your state(s) got in FY 2009 or 2008, see:

  • Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Allotments.
  • For earlier years, go here. State allocations are based in large part on a lengthy multi-year review process with EPA and state and utility officials, which EPA reports on every four years. Funding is determined in part by Congressional response to the findings.
  • EPA Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, Fourth Report to Congress.