States' drinking-water infrastructure programs have received a major infusion with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's allocations of about $6.5 billion in fiscal year 2023 funds to upgrade reservoirs, drinking water lines and other infrastructure.

In its April 4 announcement of its distribution plan for the funds, EPA noted the largest share of the total is $6 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs).

The other $500 million will come from EPA’s regular appropriations and also flow through the SRFs.

The $6 billion in IIJA drinking water dollars includes: $3 billion for identifying and making improvements to lead service lines; $800 million to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other “emerging contaminants;" and $2.2 billion for other drinking water system upgrades.

Top States for Total Funding

Texas receives the largest funding share among the states, with $414.4 million; California ranks second, with $391.5 million; followed by Florida, with $376.2 million; Illinois, $332.2 million; and New York, $270.8 million.

J. Alan Roberson, executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrator, told ENR via email, "All states are in the process of reviewing grant applications for this funding."

He adds, "How quickly construction contracts are bid and notice-to-proceed is given will vary state to state."

Tommy Holmes, American Water Works Association legislative director, said via email, "States draw up 'intended-use plans' to help distribute the money, either as loans or loans. with principle forgiven."

He adds, "The IIJA provided that a greater percentage of SRF funds can be distributed under those latter two more-generous methods."

The state allotments are based on EPA’s latest Safe Drinking Water Survey and Assessment, also released April 4. The survey, mandated by Congress in the Safe Drinking Water Act, is done every four years. The new survey is the seventh and is based on data collected in 2021.

Top 5 States, Lead Service Line Funding

In a first, the new report includes a survey of lead service lines and is projecting a total of 9.2 million such lines in the U.S. EPA will use the new lead-lines survey to divide up funds for that purpose.

The largest lead-service-line allocation is $254.8 million, to Florida, followed by Illinois, with $230.2 million.

Ranking third is Ohio, with $166.9 million, followed by Pennsylvania, $155 million, and Texas, $146.2 million.

Roberson says that as he studied the lead service line (LSL) funding numbers, he was struck that Florida ranks first for lead service line replacement funding.

He says, "It's the first time Florida has been prominent in any discussions on the numbers of LSL in a particular state. Roberson says all officials are still learning about LSL inventories but in the past, "the states with the largest numbers of lead service lines have typically been in the Northeast or in the Upper Midwest."

The new report estimates drinking water infrastructure needs at $625 billion over 20 years  Of that total, distribution and transmission infrastructure accounts for $420.8 billion, water treatment projects account for $106.4 billion, reservoirs and other water storage is $55.3 billion, water source $24.9 billion and other infrastructure $17.6 billion.

The new report's total needs estimate is a 32% increase over the previous total of $472.8 billion. That report was released in 2018 and based on data collected in 2015.