The Administration supports Senate passage of S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021. This legislation aligns with the Administration’s goals to upgrade and modernize aging infrastructure, improve the health of children and small and disadvantaged communities, develop new technologies, and help address cybersecurity threats and mitigate dangers from climate change.
Across the country, pipes and treatment plants are aging, undermining the reliable delivery of safe drinking water and allowing polluted wastewater to endanger public health and the environment. Large portions of U.S. water and wastewater systems were built over a century ago. As pipes and plants reach the end of their expected lifespan, they must be upgraded and replaced. An estimated six to ten million homes still receive drinking water through lead pipes and service lines.
S. 914 authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency’s core water infrastructure funding programs and continues the commitment to partnering with States, Tribes, and territories to invest in infrastructure projects in communities across the United States, ensuring that all Americans, especially those living in underserved communities, have access to safe and clean water and opportunities for economic growth. S. 914 authorizes programs to address lead pipes and service lines in our drinking water systems. It supports small, disadvantaged, and rural communities, including Tribal communities, through grant programs that promote environmental justice. S. 914 authorizes increased funding levels and provides program flexibilities to enable investments in water projects that address aging infrastructure, improve availability and access to drinking water and wastewater services, and improve water quality. It authorizes programs to connect households to public water and wastewater services, provide technical assistance on decentralized wastewater systems, and improve sanitation in rural Alaska and Alaska Native villages. S. 914 promotes resiliency projects to address the impacts of climate change and makes explicit that cybersecurity projects are eligible for key programs. The legislation also authorizes funding to address recruitment, training, and retention challenges facing the water and wastewater utility workforce.
The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress on this bipartisan legislation to strengthen our nation’s water systems. This bill is a good start to the much-needed funding required to provide communities with the water quality they deserve and create good-paying jobs.