Press Release

Gillibrand and Delgado Introduce Legislation to Help Communities in New York and Across the Country Repair Their Aging Water Infrastructure

Jun 14, 2019

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) today announced legislation to help repair the nation’s aging water infrastructure. The Promoting Infrastructure and Protecting the Economy (PIPE) Act would create a new grant program to help communities in New York and across the country invest in critical water system upgrades. The bill would authorize $5 billion over 10 years to provide discretionary grants to state and local governments, tribal governments, and public water utilities for projects related to drinking water and waste water infrastructure. The PIPE Act would allow communities to continue to provide clean water for their residents and reliable water systems that help promote economic development.

“Too many communities in New York and across the country have water pipes that are old and leaking, lack sewer systems, and have outdated technology that isn’t doing a good enough job of providing clean drinking water to their residents and of keeping wastewater from polluting the environment,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Our communities need to be able to invest in projects that ensure their water systems are up to date. The PIPE Act would create a new discretionary grant program that funds drinking water and sewer projects so that communities can have the resources they need to fix their broken water infrastructure. This will help ensure that our communities have the resources they need to rebuild broken water systems and to provide reliable sources of water for generations to come.”

“Access to functional, clean, and safe water infrastructure is not a luxury, it is an economic necessity. I continue to hear from farmers and business owners across NY-19 about the need to update water and wastewater infrastructure, and the prohibitive costs associated with these projects in rural areas.” Rep. Delgado continued, “I’m proud to lead the House version of the Promoting Infrastructure and Protecting the Economy (PIPE) Act to create a new discretionary grant program to fund local drinking water and sewer projects. This legislation is long overdue, and will ensure NY-19 and communities across the country can build the new water systems they need to improve quality of life and revitalize their economies.”

According to a 2017 report by the New York State Office of the Comptroller, New York State drinking water and wastewater infrastructure will require tens of billions of dollars in investment in the coming decades. Wastewater treatment facilities are, on average, 30 years old, and 30 percent of the underground sewers are over 60 years old and operating beyond their useful life expectancy.

Grants funded through the PIPE Act could be used to construct, replace, or repair public drinking water and waste water treatment facilities. This could include projects to repair or replace water pipes, projects to ensure drinking water sources comply with water quality regulations, and projects that promote water conservation and efficiency.

Specifically, the PIPE Act would do the following:

•       Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a new discretionary grant program for water infrastructure and authorize it to be funded at $5 billion over the next 10 years.

•       Allow state, local, and tribal governments and public water utilities to apply for grants for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

•       Allow multiple projects to be bundled into one grant application to help small and rural projects compete for funds.

•       Ensure that grants are spent on a mix of rural, suburban, and urban projects by capping the maximum amount of the total funding any one state can receive at 20% in each fiscal year.

•       Require projects funded by these grants to comply with Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rate requirements to ensure workers for any PIPE Act projects are paid fair wages, and for the projects to comply with “Buy America” requirements to support domestic manufacturers.