Statement: Senate committee moves to curb sewage pollution but falls short on protecting drinking water

For Immediate Release.

WASHINGTON — The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved two water infrastructure bills this morning. The America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) would increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to $3 billion per year by 2024, providing vital resources to curb sewage and runoff pollution. Unfortunately, the committee failed to include key measures to protect drinking water from lead and PFAS contamination in the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act (DWIA)

John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America, issued the following statement:

“Sewage overflows and runoff pollution are major threats to America’s waterways. Once public health experts determine that we can safely re-open our beaches, swimmers should not face the risk of getting sick from pathogens in the water. This is a widespread threat that we documented last summer in our Safe for Swimming? report. By increasing funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to $3 billion per year, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today took a critical step forward in protecting our waterways and our health from these threats. 

“Moreover, we commend the Senate committee for rejecting a loophole approved in companion House legislation that would have allowed some sewage treatment plants to continue dumping pollution at unacceptable levels for ten years.

“However, we are disappointed that the bills approved by the committee did not include the following crucial measures recommended by Environment America and others that are necessary to protect our drinking water from toxic PFAS chemicals and lead:  

  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill that curbs dumping PFAS into our waters under the Clean Water Act (S.2980); 

  • $4.5 billion in funding to replace lead service lines; and

  • $1 billion in funding to replace lead-bearing fountains and install filters to safeguard schools’ drinking water.

“Clean water is vital for our health.  We will continue to work with Congress to pass final legislation that more fully addresses contamination of our water.”