To watch the floor speech, click here or on the image above. 

– U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor to encourage her colleagues to vote to advance the Drinking Water and Wastewater Act of 2021, legislation to invest in our nation’s water infrastructure.


GIVING STATES FLEXIBILITY: “Something I’m particularly proud of is how this bill provides flexibility to both rural and urban areas and lets them decide how they can best address their needs. The most significant investments in this bill are in the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds–or as we know them– SRFs. The SRFs maximize authority for the states to determine how best to address drinking and wastewater challenges, utilizing a revolving loan fund to facilitate additional future investments.”

HELPING RURAL AREAS: “For rural states like West Virginia, we offer several solutions to unique water challenges…First, the bill invests $50 [m]illion for those currently served by intractable water systems. Those are the systems that service fewer than 1000 people and have typically been abandoned by the operator. We have quite a few of those. Towns in the southern coalfields of West Virginia like those in McDowell County have historically struggled with this. Since many of these households cannot connect to municipal water systems in an economic or technologically feasible way, the funding will go to a grant program to help them install environmentally-sound decentralized wastewater systems.”

INFRASTRUCTURE SUSTAINABILITY: “Infrastructure resiliency and sustainability is also a priority in this bill. In rural areas especially, some of the pipes are nearly one hundred years old. I’ve ever heard about wooden pipes! Small towns often don’t have the revenues to spend on expensive drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades. That’s why this legislation creates grants for small public water systems to replace components, to identify and prevent leaks, and to install meters.”

SAVING WATER: “Reports have shown that only one quarter of the water that West Virginia water systems pay to have treated and pumped even reaches a faucet. Only one quarter! That’s how much water leaks out….Water is such a precious resource, and wasting that much of it because of leaky pipes and faulty infrastructure is absolutely unacceptable. This $250 million grant program will help provide the technical assistance and infrastructure investments that these small systems – serving 10,000 people or fewer – need to address those challenges off their back and get back on surer fiscal footing as they better serve their customers.”

WATER WORKFORCE RECRUITMENT: “I cannot help but think that we regularly take for granted the public health services provided by this nation’s water utility workforce…Unfortunately, a large portion of the men and women who are in our water treatment facilities are getting older, and they’re retiring.  That’s why we need to make sure we have the next generation of water workers ready. This bill increases funding authorized to $25 million over five years for the program that helps water systems grow their workforce through apprenticeships, through training programs, and also helps with their retention efforts. This program has been extremely popular with water systems throughout the country.”

BIPARTISAN EFFORT: “This bill is proof that we can work together on infrastructure. This is a bipartisan, responsible, meaningful investment. We’re taking care of pipes. We’re looking out for our environment. And we’re putting special emphasis on helping rural and disadvantaged communities. At the end of the day, this bill is really about helping people. This is a bipartisan bill we can all be proud of.”


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