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Rep. Kildee Partners with Senator Kamala Harris on Comprehensive Legislation to Address Nation’s Water Crisis

July 22, 2019
Press Release

The Water Justice Act will invest $250 billion in water safety, affordability, and sustainability

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, joined U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) to announce the Water Justice Act, landmark legislation to ensure that the nation’s water supply is safe, affordable and sustainable.

To address the ongoing drinking water crisis in the country, the comprehensive legislation would immediately invest in communities and schools to test for and remove contaminants in water, including replacing toxic lead service lines. Further, the bill would provide families struggling with the cost of rising water bills with assistance and support a broad range of sustainable water infrastructure projects.

“My hometown of Flint knows all too well the consequences of failing to invest in our drinking water systems. No family should ever have to worry if the water coming out of their taps is safe, and unfortunately that is a reality for many communities across the country. I’m proud to partner with Senator Harris to introduce this comprehensive bill that addresses the safety and sustainability of water. With smart investments, we can secure clean drinking water for all,” said Congressman Kildee.

“Every American has the right to clean water, period,” said Senator Harris. “We must take seriously the existential threat represented by future water shortages and acknowledge that communities across the country—particularly communities of color—already lack access to safe and affordable water. Achieving true justice in our nation will require us to recognize the precious nature of water and take bold action to invest in long-term, sustainable solutions to guarantee it for everybody.”

“Thank you Senator Harris for your leadership on this critical issue,” said Congresswoman Lawrence. “Too many communities across the country lack access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. This bill reaffirms that water is a human right and delivers a comprehensive solution to achieve justice for millions of families.”

Right now, the water supplied to Americans is often neither safe nor affordable. In recent years, of those schools that conducted tests for contamination, 37 percent—serving an estimated 13 million students—tested positive for lead in their drinking water and 30 percent of U.S. community water systems reported having some lead-containing service lines in their system. Since 2010, household water rates have increased by approximately 41 percent, with as many as 15 percent of households facing water affordability challenges.

The Water Justice Act, which would invest $250 billion in critical upgrades to the nation’s water infrastructure, consists of three main planks: Safe Water, Affordable Water, and Sustainable Water.

  • Safe Water
    • Direct $50 billion in emergency funds toward contaminated communities and schools to test for contaminants in water and remediate or replace toxic drinking water infrastructure.
    • Invest nearly $170 billion in Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Drinking Water Act programs.
  • Affordable Water
    • Establish a $10 billion program to allow states to offset the cost of water bills in low-income communities and households that are “environmentally at-risk.”
    • “Environmentally at-risk” households would be determined using such factors as proximity to an environmentally hazardous site or a pollution hotspot.
  • Sustainable Water
    • Invest $20 billion in a diverse range of sustainable water supply, recycling, and conservation programs. For example, the legislation would:
    • Expand the federal government’s only water reuse and recycling program.
    • Increase mandatory spending for water infrastructure programs.
    • Reauthorize the Rural Water Supply Program.

This month, Congressman Kildee introduced the NO LEAD Act which would require the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) to update the Lead and Copper Rule, which has not been updated in 25 years. Also, Congressman Kildee introduced the Get the Lead Out of Assisted Housing to test and remediate lead in drinking water in federally assisted housing. Currently, there is no requirement to test for lead in drinking water in federally assisted housing.