Statement: In a good first step toward clean water, Senate passes bipartisan water infrastructure bill

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Sen. Ossoff wins critical lead in drinking water funding

Environment Georgia

ATLANTA — The Senate passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 on Thursday. The legislation would provide a boost to water infrastructure by authorizing more than $35 billion over a five year period for water resource projects. The bill also improves programs to replace lead pipes and stop lead contamination of schools’ water, and creates a program to increase water affordability.

Georgia’s Sen. Jon Ossoff played a critical role in pushing for increased funding to address unsafe levels of lead in school drinking water. Specifically, the bill increases funding for EPA’s program to replace lead service lines to $100 million annually and provides schools with $200 million over the next five years that they can now use for key steps to prevent lead contamination — such as installing new fountain filtration stations. . Lead contamination of drinking water is widespread, even in our schools. Environment Georgia’s “Get the Lead Out” report gave Georgia an ‘F’ for failing to protect Georgia’s children from lead in school water. In addition, sewage and runoff pollution continue to threaten public health. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we will need $271 billion for wastewater infrastructure, and more than $472 billion for drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years.

Environment Georgia’s Director Jennette Gayer issued the following statement:

“Georgians continue to be at risk from widespread lead contamination, even in schools where our children go to learn and play every day. Thankfully, the water infrastructure bill passed by The Senate has the power to ensure that Georgia will have more resources to protect our kids and get lead out of school drinking water. Environment Georgia Thanks Sen. Ossoff for his work to increase funding to get lead out of school drinking water and Sen. Warnock, who also voted for this legislation, which puts families first.

“That said, while this investment is a solid start, our water infrastructure is in desperate need  of an even greater upgrade.  This is vital to keep Georgia’s beaches and rivers safe for swimming. To make that happen, we’ll keep pressing our elected leaders to reinstate the 20 percent carve-out for natural and green infrastructure. And we’ll keep working to win full funding  to get the lead out of our drinking water systems. This includes the $45 billion President Biden has called for in his plan to replace all lead service lines.”