WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives passed S. 3021, America’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Act, by a unanimous voice vote. Title II of S. 3021 includes nearly all H.R. 3387, the Drinking Water System Improvement Act of 2017, which Tonko shepherded through the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously in July 2017. S. 3021 now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be quickly taken up, passed and sent to the President for his signature, marking a major legislative accomplishment for Tonko.
“It is long overdue for the federal government to ease the burdens of local communities and pay its fair share to maintain and upgrade critical drinking water infrastructure. I always say that every life and every job in this country depends on access to safe drinking water. The needs are great, and the cost of inaction is high. Today, Congress took a step forward to finally begin to invest in our drinking water systems, making our water safer, cleaner and improving this hidden infrastructure,” said Tonko.
A full video of Tonko’s floor remarks can be found here.
Specific provisions of the bill, include -
· Reauthorize EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) for the first time since its creation in 1996. The DWSRF is the primary source of federal funding for drinking water systems. The bill would raise the authorization from $1billion annually to $1.174 billion for FY2019, $1.3 billion for FY2020, and $1.95 billion for FY2021. Congressman Tonko has introduced legislation to reauthorize this program since 2014.
· Require water systems serving over 3,300 persons to monitor for unregulated contaminants, such as PFOA. Currently, only systems serving more than 10,000 people are required to do this monitoring.
· Establish a $5 million per year grant program to provide assistance to schools and daycare centers with drinking water fountains containing lead components.
· Require “Buy America” standards for DWSRF projects through FY2023 and prevailing wage standards to ensure that American workers are benefiting from these investments.
· Provide $125 million annually through FY2021 to support State water offices through the Public Water System Supervision grant program.
· Require water system risk assessments reviewing resilience of systems from malevolent acts and natural hazards, such as extreme weather events.
· Provide additional support to disadvantaged communities by increasing the maximum and minimum amounts of DWSRF assistance for these communities.
· Extend the time for DWSRF loans to be repaid in full from 20 years to 30 after a project’s completion, and up to 40 for disadvantaged communities.
A complete summary of the bill can be found here.
Tonko has previously visited drinking water systems in New York, including Schenectady, Delanson, Altamont, Albany, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Rensselaer, East Greenbush, and Castleton-on-Hudson. He met with the Mayor of Troy, NY in early 2016 to discuss the city’s major water main break. Tonko has also traveled out of state to tour drinking water systems in Richmond, VA, Wilmington, DE, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, and New Haven, CT.
Drinking Water By the Numbers:
· In March, EPA estimated more than $472 billion is needed to maintain the nation’s drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years.
· Albany, NY alone has 317 miles of pipes, some of them as much as 135 years old.
· 86% of U.S. households rely on public water supplies.
· Leaking pipes lose an estimated 7 billion gallons of clean drinking water every day.
· There are more than 700 water main breaks every day.
· There may be as many as 10 million lead service lines in use.
· In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s water infrastructure a D grade.
Congressman Tonko’s full legislative record on drinking water can be found at https://tonko.house.gov/water.