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Recent Accomplishments

USDA Decentralized Water Systems Program

Our 2023 advocacy efforts culminated in Congress passing Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations legislation that provides $6 million for the USDA Decentralized Water Systems Program.

This program will provide $5 million in grants for eligible well water and decentralized wastewater system stakeholders, the same amount it received in FY23.

The appropriations bill also provides an additional $1 million in grants specifically targeted for decentralized wastewater systems.

EPA Decentralized Wastewater Grant Program

NOWRA worked with Congress to influence the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021. 

The Act included the creation of the first-ever federal grant program dedicated to onsite wastewater systems—EPA’s Decentralized Wastewater Grant Program. 

The 2021 Infrastructure Act authorized $50 million for each of the Fiscal Years 2022 – 2026, for a total of $250 million. We have spent a great deal of effort working with Congress to designate funding for this program and successfully secured $5 million in the House-passed EPA funding bill.

Unfortunately, Congress did not include funding for the program in the final version of the bill. However, the White House included $5 million in the President’s FY25 budget proposal for the EPA Decentralized Wastewater Grant Program.

The budget proposal also noted that this new program will provide grants for the construction, repair, or replacement of individual household decentralized wastewater treatment systems; or the installation of larger decentralized wastewater systems designed to provide treatment for two or more households with low or moderate income. This language in the President’s budget elevates the profile of this program and denotes it as a funding priority for FY25.

Letters to Congress

Through NOWRA’s renewal and participation in the U.S. EPA MOU Partnership for Decentralized Wastewater Management, we were able to rally other stakeholder organizations to support our public policy efforts.

This ally development effort culminated in a NOWRA-led letter sent to Senate and House Appropriations leaders in February 2024 urging them to promote federal funding programs that provide access to clean water and adequate wastewater infrastructure. A total of 14 organizations signed on to the letter authored by NOWRA. 

Meetings with Policymakers

Although we did not conduct a formal Legislative Fly-in in 2023, NOWRA representatives, Polsinelli staff (our lobbying firm), and some BOG members held targeted meetings with key congressional legislators on the Congressional appropriations committees. 

In April 2022 we held 68 meetings with Congressional offices to discuss the benefits of decentralized systems and to request support for the full funding of EPA and USDA grant and financing programs targeted at replacing malfunctioning on non-existent household onsite systems.

U.S. Census

NOWRA worked with the EPA to include a "sewer or septic" question on the U.S. Census's annual American Community Survey.

NOWRA Priorities Included in AWIA

NOWRA worked with Congress to influence America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 to include language to increase the use, funding, and EPA technical support for onsite/decentralized systems.

The legislation contained the following provisions:

  • Information Clearinghouse. EPA is directed to set up a technology clearinghouse on the cost-effectiveness of alternative wastewater technologies, especially onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment.
  • Disseminate Information to Local Governments. EPA must share information about the cost-effectiveness of onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment with local governments and non-profits seeking federal funding.
  • Report to Congress. Every three years, EPA must tell Congress how well it has met the first two objectives and also describe what other actions it has taken to increase deployment of onsite/decentralized treatment.

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