Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks.

DOVER, Del. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held the second of a two-part hearing series focusing on the unique challenges that small, disadvantaged, and rural communities face in accessing and maintaining drinking water and wastewater services. Today’s hearing followed a field hearing in Beckley, West Virginia.

Below is the committee hearing opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman Carper. Thank you Senator Coons for coming. It’s always good to see our fellow senators in their home states.

“This is my first visit to Dover, Delaware—I’ve been to Delaware before.

“We did have a wonderful session in Beckley, West Virginia, where I’m going to be very interested to see where our similarities are, because I think there are many. Delaware is a very rural state in many, many ways, and also probably has some of the economic challenges that we have in the state of West Virginia in terms of affordability and how do you build systems and redo systems that were built 50-60 years ago to meet the challenges of a growing population, but also aging infrastructure.

“I’m really pleased to be here today to see how Delaware is coping with these problems. It’s also great to be here with you, Representative Blunt Rochester.

“I also want to say that you have two great senators here. I get to see Senator Carper all the time and he is passionate about what he does and he’s a great communicator.

“I also want to thank the chairman for his willingness to work to address these challenges earlier this year, in the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act. I won’t get into the details and repeat what he said, but I will repeat that we had not only a unanimous vote out of our EPW Committee, but also off the Senate floor with a vote of 89 to 2. This bill is what is the basis of what has been discussed—the bipartisan infrastructure package. Our water bill is contained in whole within that bill, verbatim.

“The whole package is a commonsense, bipartisan piece of legislation that doesn’t just handle water, but also roads, bridges, and broadband, which is a very difficult challenge in certain parts of my state being mountainous and rural. It’s very much of a challenge.

“I’d like to thank our witnesses for being here today.

“I look forward to hearing their perspectives.

“Mr. Chairman, I appreciate our regular conversations on this important and bipartisan issue.

“Every day Americans rely on the infrastructure that supports our drinking water systems.

“These are the systems that this nation prides itself on. Many of us have traveled around the world and have seen the things that we take for granted in terms of water are so desperately needed not just across our country, but around the world.

“Unfortunately, this nation is facing critical challenges in the resilience of these systems, with many of our small and rural communities disproportionately affected by the wide array of water infrastructure challenges. You mentioned some of the chemical challenges, but also in my state, we have an issue with losing the resource because we have aging infrastructure. By the time it goes from the treatment plant to the home, we’ve already lost 50% of our water. Think of our friends in California and what they would think about that.

“Small, rural communities are particularly strained and need additional support.

“Importantly though, these challenges are not unique to one state.

“I am committed to continue addressing the challenges facing this nation’s water infrastructure expeditiously, in a bipartisan fashion, and with a holistic approach.

“I believe ensuring reliable, modern water infrastructure is a fundamental responsibility of government.

“Importantly, I think we were able to address many of these concerns and provide meaningful solutions in the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act.

“This Act provided funding and created new programs that target actual infrastructure needs and do so in a way that is actually implementable by EPA.

“The programs and funding in DWWIA provide solutions ranging from ensuring that systems have pipes that don’t leak, to ensuring that there is a sustainable water workforce in place to maintain and operate continued and new infrastructure investments, to ensuring that there is tailored funding for the resilience and sustainability of small and rural systems, like some of those in Delaware.

“We provided a robust, and yes, I’ll say it again, amazingly bipartisan, piece of legislation that created a toolbox of solutions.

“I look forward to hearing what you all have to say today. Thank you for being so welcoming to me and my staff.

“It’s my honor to be here with you and the great folks of Delaware. Thank you.” 

# # #