On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive $45,565,000 through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) for vital drinking water infrastructure upgrades. The funds are part of the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which designated $6 billion to the EPA for increased investments in the nation’s water infrastructure.
The U.S. Virgin Islands government will utilize this funding to enhance drinking water treatment systems, prioritizing disadvantaged communities across the islands, according to the EPA. Additionally, the funds will support the rehabilitation of existing distribution systems, service expansion to the community, and assistance for other drinking water providers in the territory.
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan emphasized the importance of access to clean, safe drinking water for every community. He acknowledged the unprecedented opportunity to revitalize the nation’s drinking water systems, support the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of removing 100% of lead pipes, and protect communities from PFAS pollution.
DWSRF allocations to states are determined based on the findings of EPA’s 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA). The survey, mandated by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act, evaluates the infrastructure needs of the nation’s public water systems every four years and uses the results to distribute DWSRF grants to states.
The funding is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s $50 billion investment in water and wastewater infrastructure improvements across the United States between FY 2022 and FY 2026. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will dedicate $3 billion to lead service line identification and improvement, $800 million to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and $2.2 billion to other crucial drinking water system enhancements. An additional $500 million will be available through the DWSRF annual appropriations, established by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The EPA reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that every community has access to this historic investment, emphasizing the prioritization of disadvantaged communities. The agency is also bolstering its water technical assistance programs to aid communities in assessing their water needs and applying for their fair share of the investment.