Duckworth Leads Hearing on Her Bipartisan Law’s Impact on Removing Lead From Drinking Water, Improving Wastewater Infrastructure
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, today led a hearing on the implementation of her Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA), highlighting the critical importance of water infrastructure improvements for communities in Illinois and across the country. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes Duckworth’s entire DWWIA, which would help rebuild our nation’s crumbling and dangerous water infrastructure. Witnesses for today’s hearing included Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, who highlighted how the city replaced its lead service lines and shared how other municipalities can implement these changes with assistance from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Video from today’s hearing is available here and photos are available here.
“While this bill is an incredible effort toward clean water for all, our jobs are not done,” Duckworth said. “Now we must do the work to ensure that these programmatic changes are carried out and that these critical funds get to the communities that need it the most. There has been a historic lack of investment in water infrastructure but especially for disadvantaged, small, rural and tribal communities that each have individual challenges when it comes to water infrastructure. Our lack of attention to these communities is not acceptable. We must break down barriers for funding to ensure every American has access to clean water, no matter their zip code, the color of their skin or the size of their wallet.”
Duckworth also highlighted how communities like Cahokia Heights in Illinois inspired and informed DWWIA and its inclusion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Provisions from the law are specifically designed to help small and historically disadvantaged communities access the federal support they need.
“In Illinois, the community of Cahokia Heights has been experiencing horrifying sewer overflow issues for years and is in urgent need of repairs, including replacing sewer pipes, pumps and lift stations and drainage systems,” Duckworth said. “But communities like this will likely never qualify for traditional loans or be able to provide a large cost-share and there are almost no other options for them. How are struggling communities ever expected to prosper economically if they do not even have functioning drinking water and wastewater infrastructure?”
Along with Baraka, Duckworth and the Subcommittee heard from National Association of Clean Water Agencies Board Member Joshua Schimmel, Earth and Water Law Partner Susan Bodine and Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems Executive Director Mark Pepper.
Duckworth’s DWWIA will help Illinois—which contains the most known lead service lines of any state in the nation—be able to dramatically accelerate projects to remove dangerous lead pipes and protect countless children against permanent, irreversible brain damage from drinking lead-contaminated water. Full funding for DWWIA was included in President Biden’s FY23 budget, which was announced last month. Before its inclusion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, last year Duckworth successfully shepherded passage of DWWIA in the Senate by a vote of 89 to 2. Duckworth is also the co-founder of the U.S. Senate Environmental Justice Caucus.
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