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07 • 01 • 2021

House Passes Landmark Bill to Fund Clean Water and Stop Plastic Pellet Pollution

By Katie Day

This morning the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3684, the INVEST in America Act, including a package of water bills that authorizes critical funding to address America’s failing wastewater infrastructure that leads to pollution at the beach.

Thanks to the thousands of community members that made their voice heard across the nation (including many of you!), provisions of the package authorize funding to stop harmful pollution from reaching our coastlines and communities. The package advances a suite of Surfrider federal priorities, including setting the groundwork for upgrades to leaking and outdated sewage infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), enhancing the climate resilience of our wastewater infrastructure, stopping the discharge of millions of plastic pellets into our waterways, and so much more.

Surfrider and a coalition of organizations across the country commend Congressional House leaders for advancing this legislation; however, we acknowledge that the bill passed narrowly and bipartisan support will be critical to ensure that these components are included in a final bill approved by both the House and Senate. While this was a critical step forward, there is still so much more work to be done before some of these programs are officially funded. Fortunately, clean water and plastic free waters are a win for everyone, including the economy, and Surfrider will continue to fight at the local, state and federal level to ensure our coastal resources are protected.

Highlighted provisions of the recently passed INVEST in America Act include:

  • Rep. Defazio’s Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act authorizing $8 billion annually over five years to the EPA CWSRF. This program will fund sewage and stormwater infrastructure upgrades that prevent sewage spills at the beach, while providing well-paying jobs to local communities.

  • Senator Durbin’s S.1507 Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act prohibiting the discharge of plastic pellets and other pre-production plastic materials from facilities and sources that make, use, package, or transport those materials. This provision was introduced by Rep. Lowenthal (the co-author of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act) and the same language is also included in the BFFPPA. 

  • Rep. Lee’s Climate Resilience Provision that requires any CWSRF funded wastewater infrastructure to complete a climate resiliency assessment and be designed and constructed to withstand climate change impacts.

  • Rep. Moore and Pappa’s Stormwater Provision to authorize an EPA grant program for research and development on stormwater control technologies.

  • And dozens more, including provisions that advance access to clean drinking water and advanced wastewater in schools and historically disadvantaged communities, provide workforce training and development in the water sector, and set a deadline for establishing PFAS chemical limitations and guidelines.

Surfrider will continue to provide updates on ways to take action as these bills move through Congress. In the meantime, please voice your support for other federal priorities that protect our ocean and coasts on our Take Action page, including passing the Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, banning offshore oil drilling, and more!