When Congress completed work on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act they passed a major highway and road construction bill but there are important ‘human service” components that go beyond just the potential jobs created.
The most significant human service need are the new provisions on drinking water, particularly with the removal of lead but there are additional provisions both under clean water and other areas. Division E of the bill provides over $55 billion for a range of programs to make drinking water safer. These grants include:
- Grants for emergencies affecting public water systems.
- The drinking water state revolving loan funds.
- Assistance for small and disadvantaged communities.
- Reducing lead in drinking water which would provide $3 billion a year for lead service line replacement.
- A needs assessment for nationwide rural and urban low-income community water assistance, rural and low-income water assistance pilot program.
- A section to address lead contamination in school drinking water.
- Indian reservation drinking water program.
- Sewer overflow and stormwater reuse municipal grants.
- Grants for construction and refurbishing of individual household decentralized wastewater systems for individuals with low or moderate income; and
- Clean water state revolving funds, and grants to Alaska to improve sanitation in rural and Native villages.
Under Division F of the legislation provides $65 billion to help assist communities access the internet (broadband). Grants will be provided to the states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories. In part it expands two programs, the ReConnect program and the Rural Broadband program. At least 10 percent of the ReConnect funding (nearly $200 million) is for areas where 90 percent of households are in rural areas with broadband access speeds that fall below a certain very low level. There is also money for vouchers to low-income families to be able to afford the service.
Among other items, $2.5 billion to address Indian Water Rights Settlement, the Clean School Bus program to provide grants state, local and tribal governments to purchase zero emission or clean school buses, and a renewal of the weatherization assistance grant a $3.5 billion program—an important program for low and fixed-income families that tend to own older housing stock more in need of weatherization.