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Water infrastructure assistance aided by $361M

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(The Center Square) – Another $361 million from federal taxpayers is flowing into North Carolina from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

The money this time is through the Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water and upgrades to water treatment infrastructure. Nationally, the EPA designated $5.8 billion in this week’s announcement from the 2021 legislation’s allocation of $50 billion for water infrastructure upgrades.

The state has picked up $537 million in water infrastructure projects from the federal government since 2022. Fifty-three days into this election year, North Carolina overall has garnered $650.5 million from the 2021 federal aid package.

“This grant will give our communities the tools they need to ensure all North Carolinians have access to clean, safe drinking water they need and deserve,” said U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in a release from the White House. “I applaud the EPA for investing in our great state and I am proud to have worked on the bipartisan infrastructure bill to make this grant possible.”

U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., said she’s working to modernize water infrastructure, combat PFAS contamination, and preserve the environment. PFAS, an acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Studies vary on their harmful effects; more is known about their impact on animals than on humans.

“We must invest critically in drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure,” said U.S. Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C. “Failure to do so will place health and jobs at risk. These investments will help North Carolina communities and families for years to come.”

President Joe Biden, in signing the bill just over two years ago, said it rebuilds the economy from the bottom up and from the middle out. Inflation had already zoomed from 1.4% when he took office in January that year to 6.8% when he signed, then zipped up to 9.1% the following June. It’s 3.1% in the latest numbers from January.

Already this year in North Carolina from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

• On Jan. 18, Biden campaigned and announced an $82 million investment that would enable 16,000 households to get connected to high-speed internet.

• On Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Transportation funneled $4.8 million to install fast-charging electric vehicle plugs in historically disadvantaged communities within one mile of Interstates 40, 85, 885 and U.S. 70.

• On Jan. 10, the EPA’s Clean School Bus Grant Program ticketed 114 buses for replacement through $26.7 million from taxpayers. Each region of the state was getting at least a couple of buses, though 65 of them will be in Durham Public Schools (38) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (27).

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