RALEIGH -- The United States Senate passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 on Thursday. The legislation would provide a boost to water infrastructure by authorizing more than $35 billion over a five year period for water resource projects. The bill also improves programs to replace lead pipes and stop lead contamination of schools’ water, and creates a program to increase water affordability.
Sewage and runoff pollution continue to threaten public health with pathogen pollution. In addition, lead contamination of drinking water is widespread, even in our schools. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that we will need $271 billion for wastewater infrastructure, and over $472 billion for drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years.
Krista Early, Clean Water Advocate issued the following statement:
“We applaud Senator Richard Burr for responding to our water woes with common sense, bi-partisan action. This legislation makes critically important investments in our outdated and failing water infrastructure and aims to address water affordability.
“But there is much more to do. We’ll keep working with our elected leaders to reinstate the 20 percent carve-out for natural and green infrastructure and provide full funding to get the lead out of our drinking water systems.”
“Nearly fifty years ago, our nation set goals through the Clean Water Act to make all our waterways safe for swimming and ensure safe drinking water from every tap. Yet 93 of North Carolina beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2019 due to fecal bacteria. And, our drinking water continues to be at risk with many of our schools having taps with lead exceeding 15 parts per billion.
“Environment North Carolina has been building the case for the historic investments needed to address these threats to clean water. Environment North Carolina has provided our leaders proof of the significant public support for clean water, from a letter signed by more than 130 businesses to another from more than 360 local officials, including 15 leaders from North Carolina. We have solutions to the problems our waterways and drinking water face -- solutions boasting bipartisan public support.”