A major water infrastructure bill that contains a few provisions authored by U.S. Rep. John Katko is one step closer to receiving congressional approval.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed the legislation, America's Water Infrastructure Act, on Thursday. The comprehensive bill includes the Water Resources Development Act, a biennial measure that allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to advance water infrastructure and transportation-related projects.
The latest version of the bill includes a few Katko-sponsored provisions. A measure he sponsored to support water infrastructure projects supported by State Revolving Funds was added to the larger bill. That would allow a $10 million investment over two years, which would leverage more than $1 billion in investments in drinking water and wastewater projects.
Small- and medium-sized communities would be able to tap into the funding and a mandated $100,000 application fee would be waived. Another provision authored by Katko would streamline the application process so that the turnaround is no more than 180 days.
Katko, R-Camillus explained that one way the bill would help central New York is by providing resources to combat harmful algal blooms. The blooms have been present in Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles lakes — three Finger Lakes that touch Katko's district.
"We must protect our region's water resources, and ensure safe, reliable drinking water is available to our communities," Katko said.
Katko, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has pushed for other resources to address harmful algal blooms. He led a working group within the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that drafted a report regarding infrastructure issues. The report detailed recommendations for how Congress could improve the nation's infrastructure systems, including waterways and drinking water sources.
Local officials in Cayuga County lauded Katko for his efforts to boost investments in water infrastructure.
Steve Lynch, director of the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development, said Katko's bill that was included in the comprehensive water infrastructure measure "could be pivotal" for small communities seeking funding for water projects.
"By expanding program eligibility, expediting reviews for critical projects and placing water infrastructure projects on a par with wastewater projects, the bill could open doors for innovative projects that the current programs simply cannot address," Lynch said.
The bill now heads to the Senate for final approval. If it clears the Senate, which is expected, it will head to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.