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Brown: Senate Passes Water Infrastructure Bill
Ohio Ag Connection - 10/11/2018

The Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes more than $2 billion in funding that Brown worked to secure in order to help Ohio communities invest in clean water. The bill will help Ohio communities invest in water infrastructure and provide funds for schools to test for lead in their water systems. Brown also fought to make sure the bill included strong Buy America provisions to ensure that water infrastructure projects are completed with American parts and by American workers.

"Communities across Ohio are struggling to afford expensive -- but vital -- renovations to outdated water and sewer systems. This increased funding for drinking water and lead testing programs will provide financial relief for Ohio communities, boosting economic development and ensuring safe drinking water," said Brown. "Moreover, this American infrastructure should be built with American products that support American jobs. Period."

These federal funds will be allocated to states like Ohio, and the state will then distribute funding to individual communities. Brown fought to ensure the bill included:

- Nearly $2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)

o This program provides funding to allow state governments to provide communities with financial assistance, including loans and grants, to build or update water and sewer systems.

o The bill would nearly double the size of the program from $1 billion to $1.95 billion by 2021.

o In Fiscal Year 2018, Ohio received nearly $28 million from this program.

- $60 million for small and rural communities, as well as communities the state determines need funding the most, to test and treat water contamination

o This funding will allow smaller and more rural communities, as well as communities the state determines to be in most need, to test and treat for contamination in their water systems and underground sources of drinking water.

o Community need is determined in by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

- $25 million for the lead in schools testing program

o This provision will authorize $25 million annually to provide schools and daycares across Ohio with additional assistance to address lead contamination, including the replacement of drinking water fountains, in order to keep children safe.

- A provision to extend Buy America requirements for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)

o These provisions will be extended by five years, to ensure American made products are used to construct projects funded through the program.

Brown has been fighting to secure funding for programs that help communities, large and small, update critical water and sewer systems. In August, Brown secured $1.394 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $864 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) through the appropriations process. These funds were included in the bill that appropriated federal funds to the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Senator Brown has also long fought to prevent childhood lead poisoning. Earlier this year, Brown joined several of his colleagues in introducing a plan that would remediate hazards caused by deteriorating lead paint in older homes. Brown has led efforts to protect Ohio children from lead exposure, increase lead testing rates for at-risk children, and worked to boost funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for monitoring and remediation. Brown was instrumental in strengthening the Hardest Hit Fund, which has provided communities funding to prevent foreclosure and demolish blighted properties and getting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue guidance on testing for lead in children. Brown has also advocated for funding to preserve and create affordable housing and worked to strengthen the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Earlier this year, Brown helped introduce a new plan that would both create jobs and invest in American infrastructure. Brown's plan would ensure that Buy America rules apply to all taxpayer-funded public works and infrastructure projects, including water and sewer infrastructure. Brown's plan also includes bipartisan legislation that would create a "BuyAmerican.gov" website for waivers. Brown has offered to work with President Trump to pass bipartisan legislation to address the nation's infrastructure needs. The President has pledged multiple times that "buy American and hire American" would be part of any infrastructure deal.

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