Dear Members of Congress,
As sailors, swimmers, rowers, surfers, and other water athletes, our love of the water is a unique and shared aspect of our lives. Since our sports bring us in direct contact with the water, we hold dear the Clean Water Act’s promise – made nearly fifty years ago – to make all our waterways safe for swimming. To help make good on that promise, we urge you to make the bold investments it will take to fix our nation’s water infrastructure.
Each year, billions of gallons of sewage and runoff pollution flow into our waterways. As athletes who rely on the water as our playing field, some of us have felt impacts of this pollution firsthand – from canceled events to teammates getting sick. And the impacts extend far beyond us. Pathogens close beaches. Millions of Americans suffer nausea, skin rashes, and other illnesses from contact with polluted water every year. Toxic algae imperil drinking water and wildlife alike.
To stop this pollution, we must fix our water infrastructure. This means not only upgrading treatment plants and replacing leaky pipes but also stopping runoff pollution before it overloads sewage systems and sweeps contaminants into our rivers, lakes, and bays. Permeable pavement, rain gardens, green roofs, and other techniques help solve this problem by restoring nature’s ability to absorb stormwater.
Upgrading our water infrastructure for the 21st century will cost money. EPA estimates that our wastewater systems will need $271 billion over 20 years, yet current federal spending on water infrastructure stands at a fraction of this amount. That is why we’re calling on you to make a historic investment in our nation’s water infrastructure – including $10 billion per year for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, with 20 percent of those funds dedicated to nature-based solutions that prevent runoff pollution. For the sake of clean water – and those of us who rely on it every day – we urge you to take action now, so that all our waterways will be safe for swimming.