42 U.S. Code § 300j–19e - Water infrastructure and workforce investment

(a) Definition of public works department or agency

In this section, the term “public works department or agency” means a political subdivision of a local, county, or regional government that designs, builds, operates, and maintains water infrastructure, sewage and refuse disposal systems, and other public water systems and facilities.

(b) Sense of CongressIt is the sense of Congress that—
(1)
water and wastewater utilities provide a unique opportunity for access to stable, high-quality careers;
(2)
as water and wastewater utilities make critical investments in infrastructure, water and wastewater utilities can invest in the development of local workers and local small businesses to strengthen communities and ensure a strong pipeline of skilled and diverse workers for today and tomorrow; and
(3) to further the goal of ensuring a strong pipeline of skilled and diverse workers in the water and wastewater utilities sector, Congress urges—
(A)
increased collaboration among Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments; and
(B) institutions of higher education, apprentice programs, high schools, and other community-based organizations and public works departments or agencies to align water and wastewater utility workforce recruitment efforts, training programs, retention efforts, and community resources with water and wastewater utilities—
(i)
to accelerate career pipelines;
(ii)
to ensure the sustainability of the water and wastewater utility workforce; and
(iii)
to provide access to workforce opportunities.
(c) Innovative water infrastructure workforce development program
(1) Grants authorizedThe Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (referred to in this section as the “Administrator”), in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, shall establish a competitive grant program to assist the development and utilization of innovative activities relating to workforce development and career opportunities in the water utility sector, which may include—
(A)
expanding the use and availability of activities and resources that relate to the recruitment, including the promotion of diversity within that recruitment, of individuals to careers in the water and wastewater utility sector;
(B) expanding the availability of training opportunities for—
(i)
individuals entering into the water and wastewater utility sector; and
(ii)
individuals seeking to advance careers within the water and wastewater utility sector; and
(C)
expanding the use and availability of activities and strategies, including the development of innovative activities and strategies, that relate to the maintenance and retention of a sustainable workforce in the water and wastewater utility sector.
(2) Selection of grant recipientsIn awarding grants under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, select nonprofit professional or service organizations, labor organizations, community colleges, institutions of higher education, or other training and educational institutions, or public works departments and agencies—
(A) that have qualifications and experience—
(i)
in the development of educational or recruitment materials and activities, including those materials and activities that specifically promote diversity within recruitment, for the water and wastewater utility workforce;
(ii)
in the development of training programs and curricula relevant to workforce needs of water utilities; or
(iii)
developing activities and strategies that relate to the maintenance and retention of a sustainable workforce in the water and wastewater utility sector; and
(B) that will address the human resources and workforce needs of water utilities that—
(i)
are geographically diverse;
(ii)
are of varying sizes; and
(iii)
serve urban, suburban, and rural populations.
(3) Use of fundsGrants awarded under paragraph (1) may be used for activities such as—
(A) targeted internship, apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and post-secondary bridge programs for skilled water utility trades that provide—
(i)
on-the-job training;
(ii)
skills development;
(iii)
test preparation for skilled trade apprenticeships;
(iv)
advance training in the water utility sector relating to construction, utility operations, treatment and distribution, green infrastructure, customer service, maintenance, and engineering; or
(v)
other support services to facilitate post-secondary success;
(B) education programs designed for elementary, secondary, and higher education students that—
(i)
inform people about the role of water and wastewater utilities in their communities;
(ii)
increase the awareness of career opportunities and exposure of students to water utility careers through various work-based learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom; and
(iii)
connect students to career pathways related to water utilities;
(C)
regional industry and workforce development collaborations to address water utility employment needs and coordinate candidate development, particularly in areas of high unemployment or for water utilities with a high proportion of retirement eligible employees;
(D) integrated learning laboratories in secondary educational institutions that provide students with—
(i)
hands-on, contextualized learning opportunities;
(ii)
dual enrollment credit for post-secondary education and training or certification programs; and
(iii)
direct connection to industry employers; and
(E)
leadership development, occupational training, mentoring, or cross-training programs that are designed to retain incumbent water and wastewater utility workforce workers by ensuring that those workers are prepared for higher level supervisory or management-level positions.
(4) Working group; report
(A) In generalThe Administrator shall establish and coordinate a Federal interagency working group to address recruitment, training, and retention challenges in the water and wastewater utility workforce, which shall include representatives from—
(i)
the Department of Education;
(ii)
the Department of Labor;
(iii)
the Department of Agriculture;
(iv)
the Department of Veterans Affairs; and
(v)
other Federal agencies, as determined to be appropriate by the Administrator.
(B) Report

Not later than 2 years after November 15, 2021, the Administrator, in coordination with the working group established under subparagraph (A), shall submit to Congress a report describing potential solutions to recruitment, training, and retention challenges in the water and wastewater utility workforce.

(C) Consultation

In carrying out the duties of the working group established under subparagraph (A), the working group shall consult with State operator certification programs.

(5) Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection $5,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

Editorial Notes
Codification

Section enacted as part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, and not as part of the Public Health Service Act which comprises this chapter.

Amendments

2021—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(4), added subsec. (a). Former subsec. (a) redesignated (b).

Subsec. (a)(3)(A). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(1)(A), inserted “Tribal,” after “State,”.

Subsec. (a)(3)(B). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(1)(B), substituted “community-based organizations and public works departments or agencies to align water and wastewater utility workforce recruitment efforts, training programs, retention efforts, and community resources with water and wastewater utilities—” and cls. (i) to (iii) for “community-based organizations to align workforce training programs and community resources with water and wastewater utilities to accelerate career pipelines and provide access to workforce opportunities.”

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(3), redesignated subsec. (a) as (b). Former subsec. (b) redesignated (c).

Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(2)(A), added subpars. (A) to (C), struck out former subpar. (A) designation before “to assist”, substituted “program” for “program—” and “, which may include—” for “; and” in introductory provsions, and struck out former subpar. (B) which read as follows: “to expand public awareness about water utilities and connect individuals to careers in the water utility sector.”

Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(2)(B)(i), substituted “institutions, or public works departments and agencies—” for “institutions—” in introductory provisions.

Subsec. (b)(2)(A). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(2)(B)(ii), added cls. (i) and (iii), redesignated former cl. (i) as (ii), and struck out former cls. (ii) and (iii) which read as follows:

“(ii) working in cooperation with water utilities; or

“(iii) developing public education materials appropriate for communicating with groups of different ages and educational backgrounds; and”.

Subsec. (b)(3)(D)(ii). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(2)(C)(i), inserted “or certification” after “training”.

Subsec. (b)(3)(E). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(2)(C)(ii), substituted “are designed to retain incumbent water and wastewater utility workforce workers by ensuring that those workers” for “ensure that incumbent water and waste water utilities workers”.

Subsec. (b)(4), (5). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(2)(D), added pars. (4) and (5) and struck out former par. (4). Prior to amendment, text of par. (4) read as follows: “There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection $1,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2019 and 2020.”

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 117–58, § 50211(3), redesignated subsec. (b) as (c).

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