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Provisions of Tonko’s AQUA Act and Safe Drinking Water Legislation Included in Infrastructure Bill

Tonko pushes for more investment in the new year as parts of Rep’s work to improve water infrastructure on its way to become law

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Washington, December 8, 2016 | Sean Magers (202-225-5076) | comments
Congressman Paul Tonko’s work to improve water infrastructure and enhance the safety of drinking water in our schools, homes and businesses advanced today as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act passed the U.S. House of Representative and will be signed into law by President Obama before the end of the year.

The bill included several provisions Tonko has introduced in the House this year with his AQUA Act and legislation updating the Safe Drinking Water Act. In October, Tonko released a report on the state of our national water infrastructure and the urgent need to upgrade our water systems.

Tonko delivered the following statement, in part, on the House floor this morning in support of the legislation, while pushing for more investment from the federal government next year in the form of ambitious, robust, and responsible legislation like the AQUA Act. Video of Tonko’s full remarks can be found here.

“We know communities and low-income homeowners need assistance replacing lead service lines. This bill authorizes a new $300 million grant program to get lead out of our communities. It gives priorities to schools, daycares, and other facilities that serve children. The bill also makes it easier for states to administer federal funds.

In addition to these provisions from the AQUA Act, there are number of other positive things included in this bill.

We have heard about the struggles of small and disadvantaged communities.

In my district, the Mayor of Castleton, Joseph Keegan, testified that his community needs help but simply cannot afford a loan. He suggested allowing grants. This bill includes a significant grant program specifically for that purpose.

It also gives more flexibility for tribal governments and encourages innovative technologies and it includes an authorization for a program to help schools test for lead.

Unfortunately, this bill fails to make sufficient commitments to Buy America. We must include stronger Buy America language in statute.

Ultimately, this bill has taken some good first steps to invest in our nation’s water systems and provides the City of Flint with the assistance it needs and deserves.

But much more is needed. $384 billion is needed over the next 20 years to simply keep up our drinking water systems. And 18 million Americans live in communities that violated the Lead and Copper Rule in 2015. We must do better.

It’s time to get to work. There are many more provisions included in the AQUA Act that I hope this body seriously considers moving forward,” said Tonko.

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