WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued the following statements after the president signed into law the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that will provide public water utilities in communities across the country with greater flexibility to develop management plans to meet federal standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
“Every American deserves to know that our nation’s waters are not impaired with contaminants. This bipartisan bill—now signed into law—moves us another step closer to reaching that goal,” Senator Carper said. “The bill will help communities across the country meet federal Clean Water Act standards. It enables public utilities to create community-based water plans and connects municipalities with experts at EPA, thereby providing rural utilities with more of the certainty needed to make long-term water infrastructure investments. What might seem like a small bill will make a big difference for American families, especially those in smaller, more rural areas. I’d like to thank Senators Brown, Fischer and Cardin, along with their hardworking staffs, for their dedication to getting this across the finish line.”
“Red tape shouldn’t force communities to spread their resources thin just to meet an arbitrary timeline,” said Senator Brown. “Let’s be smarter and work with communities so they can prioritize their wastewater investments while reducing pollution. This bipartisan bill will help support jobs and protect local drinking water.”
“Everyone wants safe and clean water,” said Senator Fischer. “That’s why we were able to build consensus and bring this bipartisan, bicameral measure over the finish line. Now communities like Omaha, Nebraska, will have more flexibility to update water infrastructure and protect drinking water in a more effective and affordable manner.”
“Americans have a right to expect that water coming from their taps is safe to drink and that Congress will do everything within its power to ensure that happens at a reasonable cost to consumers. Having clean, safe water should not be a luxury priced out of reach for any person in this country,” said Senator Cardin. “I am particularly pleased to know that this legislation will help limit the disproportionate impacts of sewer and water bill hikes on low-income Americans, and make critical advancements in the use of green wastewater management strategies. If consumers cannot pay their water bills, then utilities cannot make the needed repairs and upgrades to their drinking water and waste water treatment plants, nor to the pipes and pumps that deliver water throughout their service area. With this bipartisan legislation signed into law, we can break this cycle with more flexibility and greater federal resources.”
The Water Infrastructure Improvement Act codifies the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Integrated Planning (IP) Framework, which helps public water utilities across the country, including those in smaller, rural communities, to create community-oriented plans for meeting CWA standards. The legislation—now law—also establishes an office of Municipal Ombudsman within EPA to provide municipalities with assistance to comply with CWA standards, and it also includes provisions that will ensure EPA integrates the use of cleaner, more sustainable infrastructure throughout CWA compliance programs.
Full text of the bill can be found HERE.