Statement: Bipartisan Senate water infrastructure bill is a good first step

Media Contacts
Josh Chetwynd

Laura Miller

But more investments are needed to ensure the water infrastructure challenges facing this country are adequately met

Environment America

WASHINGTON — The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 on Wednesday. Environment America applauds this bipartisan effort to address water infrastructure, but more must be done to ensure Americans have access to clean drinking water and waterways that are safe for swimming.

Sewage and runoff pollution continue to threaten public health with pathogen pollution. In addition, lead contamination of drinking water is widespread, even in our schools. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we will need $271 billion for wastewater infrastructure, and over $472 billion for drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years.

The legislation, which would earmark more than $35 billion, would reauthorize the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds at $14.65 billion each over five years; take steps to increase fund accessibility and water affordability to small, rural, disadvantaged and tribal communities; and require research in new and innovative technologies to manage and conserve water.

Environment America’s Clean Water Advocate Laura Miller issued the following statement:

“From millions of lead pipes to billions of gallons in sewage overflows, our water infrastructure is in desperate need of an upgrade. Sewage spills and stormwater runoff pollution plague our favorite waterways even in the winter. Our drinking water is at risk as well, as nearly 2,000 delivery systems across the country are built with lead, which is a potent neurotoxin that affects how our children learn, grow and behave.

“We commend the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for working in a bipartisan manner on this necessary first step toward addressing our outdated and failing water infrastructure and increasing water affordability. But there is much more to do. Next, our elected leaders must reinstate the 20 percent carve-out for natural and green infrastructure and provide funding to fully replace lead service lines and get the lead of our schools.

“Fortunately, these bolder measures boast bipartisan support from the public. Four in five voters support funding the replacement of lead pipes, and 84 percent of voters support federal investments in our water infrastructure. Just last week, more than 360 local leaders called on the Biden administration and Congress to make water infrastructure a priority in their infrastructure plan. We encourage Congress to embrace public sentiment and support more robust and accessible funding for water infrastructure.”