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Authorization vs. Appropriations: What You Need To Know

When it comes to federal funds for water infrastructure grants, the difference between authorization and appropriation is essential. Sometimes the definition of one is confused for the other. Here’s what you need to know about both terms and what it means for water grants.

Authorization is Congress dictating that money can be spent on a specific item and appropriations allow agencies to spend money that has been authorized previously. Oftentimes, excitement surrounds authorization, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (which provides $55 billion in new funding over five years to help with drinking and wastewater problems). The issue is, additional legislation must be passed in order to appropriate where that money will be spent. Therefore, grant programs for water infrastructure will not receive any additional funds until they are appropriated.

Sometimes the process of funds trickling down to individual projects takes years. While this can be frustrating, it can also be used to your advantage. Do you have a project that needs to be
funded in the next few years? Keep an eye on where money is being appropriated and which
grants will be boosted because of that. This could be helpful when deciding which grants to
submit applications to years in advance, bettering your chances of success.

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