Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously passed out of committee the Drinking Water and Infrastructure Act of 2021. The bill takes several important steps such as reauthorizing the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, creating a new low-income decentralized wastewater grant program, and a new Indian reservation drinking water program. It increases the funding levels for drinking water assistance to small and disadvantaged communities and takes first steps toward creating a sorely needed long-term water affordability program at the Environmental Protection Agency.
The following statement is from Julian Gonzalez, Earthjustice’s legislative counsel for the Healthy Communities program:
“This bipartisan legislation is an important first step to ensure communities impacted most by old and inadequate water infrastructure receive the investments their communities have been owed for decades. Communities of color are most likely to be afflicted with crumbling infrastructure, unaffordable water rates, and lack of access to safe water and indoor plumbing, due to a legacy of federal disinvestment and racist policies.
“This Congress and this administration have an obligation to provide health, justice, and jobs through water infrastructure investment. While this legislation is a great start, it cannot be the final investment in communities that have been in peril even before the COVID-19 pandemic further devastated them. Earthjustice thanks senators Carper and Capito, as well as the whole committee, for acting on pressing water needs during a water crisis. We look forward to Congress continuing to act through a larger infrastructure package, with significantly more robust funding for removal of lead service lines, more grants to disadvantaged communities and tribal nations, and more funding for ratepayer assistance.”