AUSTIN - The U.S. 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. Senator John Cornyn voted yes while Senator Ted Cruz was one of two Senators to vote no.
Anna Farrell-Sherman, clean water associate at Environment Texas issued the following statement:
“We applaud Senator Cornyn for responding to our water infrastructure crisis with common sense, bi-partisan action. This legislation makes critically important investments in our outdated water infrastructure and increases water affordability.
“This is the first step to tackling the water infrastructure failures causing unprecedented floods, water boil notices, and toxic water pollution events across our country. Next, we will work with our elected leaders to reinstate the 20 percent carve-out for nature-based infrastructure and provide full funding to get the lead out of our drinking water systems.”
“Nearly fifty years ago, our nation set goals for making all our waterways safe for swimming and ensuring safe drinking water from every tap. Yet 55 out of 61 Texas beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2019 due to fecal bacteria. Sargent Beach in Matagorda County tested as potentially unsafe for 96 days, more days than any other beach in the state. And, our drinking water continues to be at risk with 71% of Texas schools which have tested finding toxic lead.
“It is clear we need historic investments in our water infrastructure to tackle these rising threats. Environment Texas is delivering to our leaders proof of the great public support for clean water -- a letter signed by more than 130 businesses to one from more than 360 local officials, including Texas leaders like Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown. We have solutions to the problems our waterways and drinking water face -- solutions boasting bipartisan public support.”