Senate Committee Unanimously Passes Duckworth’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to Rebuild our Nation’s Water Systems
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today aimed at modernizing and investing in our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure. The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 (DWWIA 2021) was introduced yesterday and 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 its Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife—which she chairs—on the need for federal investments to strengthen water infrastructure in the United States. Video of the Senator’s remarks during today’s hearing can be found here.
“To truly ‘Build Back Better,’ our nation must prioritize putting Americans back to work repairing and upgrading the aging pipes we all depend on to deliver our water,” said Duckworth. “The threat is particularly pressing in Illinois, which has the misfortune of containing more lead service lines than any other state in the country. Years of failure to make adequate investments in our water infrastructure has led to a status quo where thousands of Illinoisans are served their drinking water through what is essentially a lead straw. This is a dire situation and we must do more to stop it, which is why I’m so pleased the Committee took an important first – and significant – step forward today towards addressing this public health crisis.”
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 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.
Duckworth’s joined on this bill by Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the EPW Committee, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the EPW Committee, Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. 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).
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