Duckworth Leads Introduction of Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to Rebuild our Nation’s Water Systems
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works’ (EPW) Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, today introduced bipartisan legislation to invest in our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure. Duckworth was joined by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the EPW Committee, Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the EPW Committee and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Every American has a right to clean water—no matter their zip code, the color of their skin or the size of their income,” said Senator Duckworth, the bill’s lead author. “From permanent brain damage from drinking water contaminated with lead, to overflowing sewage, Americans across the country are now experiencing what happens when our drinking water and wastewater systems age into a state of disrepair. Rebuilding our water infrastructure must be at the heart of the ongoing ‘Build Back Better’ efforts because we will have missed a huge opportunity to improve American lives if we only fix our roads, but fail to repair and upgrade the pipes beneath them. It’s clear that the lack of investments in our water infrastructure has led to a public health crisis and we have to do more to stop it, which is why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help us do that.”
The lawmakers’ bill introduction comes after water crises earlier this year across the South—including in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi—left millions of American families without access to clean water. Last week, Duckworth co-led a joint hearing of the full Committee and the Subcommittee on the need for federal investments to strengthen water infrastructure in the United States.
The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA 2021) authorizes more than $35 billion for water resource development projects across the country with a focus on upgrading aging infrastructure, addressing the threat of climate change, investing in new technologies, and providing assistance to marginalized communities.
DWWIA 2021 makes significant investments in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant programs and revolving loan funds that support our nation’s water infrastructure.
This bill will invest more than $35 billion in water resource development projects across the country. Of that $35 billion, more than 40 percent can be directly be used to benefit small, disadvantaged, rural and tribal communities through additional subsidization from the State Revolving Loan Funds or direct grant programs.
The legislation will:
- Invest significantly in small, disadvantaged, rural, and tribal communities through grant programs that promote environmental justice.
- Provide states with increased funding and program flexibilities to invest in community water projects that address aging infrastructure and improve water quality through the State Revolving Loan Funds.
- Connect households to public water and wastewater services, decentralized wastewater services, and improve sanitation in Alaskan rural and native villages.
- Increase investments in lead abatement through grant programs and assistance.
- Promote resiliency projects to address the impacts of climate change.
- Increase investment to address recruitment, training, and retention challenges facing the water and wastewater utility workforce.
- Invest in the drinking water and wastewater needs of tribal communities.
- Provide significant investments in technical assistance and new and emerging technologies that result in cleaner, safer, and more reliable water.
The legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Whitehouse (D-RI), Inhofe (R-OK), Stabenow (D-MI), Sullivan (R-AK), Kelly (D-AZ) and Padilla (D-CA). The EPW Committee will consider this legislation at a business meeting tomorrow.
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