Major Safe Drinking Water Update Passes Senate
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which reauthorized the Safe Drinking Water Act for the first time in 20 years providing significant new funding to state and local governments to improve drinking water infrastructure nationwide. Pallone, the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led House Democrats in the bipartisan negotiations and helped pass the bill last month. The President is now expected to sign the legislation into law.
“This bipartisan bill reauthorizes the Safe Drinking Water Act for the first time in 20 years, and provides significant funding to states like New Jersey to upgrade their drinking water infrastructure,” Pallone said. “The bill nearly doubles funding for the State Revolving Fund, provides grants for schools to replace lead in drinking water fountains and increases emergency assistance for areas affected by natural disasters and extreme weather. Safe and clean drinking water is a necessity for everyone, and this agreement will help communities throughout New Jersey and around the nation modernize their water infrastructure.”
Last year, Pallone introduced Democrats’ comprehensive proposal to update the Safe Drinking Water Act, which served as the foundation for the safe drinking water provisions adopted by the House today. Pallone’s proposal enjoyed widespread support from safe drinking water and environmental advocates including the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group, and Environmental Integrity Project. Several provisions from Pallone’s Safe Drinking Water bill were included in America’s Water Infrastructure Act, such as the school drinking water fountain replacement grants, which will help schools throughout New Jersey that have experienced high drinking water lead levels.
The bill includes several significant improvements to the Safe Drinking Water Act, including:
- Nearly doubles funding for the State Revolving Fund (SRF)—from $1 billion to $1.95 billion in 2021, which provides funding to states and localities to improve water infrastructure;
- Creates a grant program for replacing leaded drinking water fountains in schools
- Directs the government to conduct a national inventory of lead service lines and to develop a cost estimate to replace them;
- Requires water utilities to provide more frequent drinking water quality reports to consumers that are comprehensive and understandable;
- Provides assistance to water utilities to improve resiliency to extreme weather, which continues to rise due to climate change;
- Provides $100 million for grants to extend access to safe drinking water into areas impacted by natural disasters.