Washington, D.C.— Today, a group of 17 advocacy organizations announced that 331,036 people have signed petitions in support of a bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich-13) to address the water quality and affordability problems plaguing many U.S. communities. The WATER Act will distribute up to $35 billion in dedicated funding to community water and sewer systems through the State Revolving Funds, creating up to 1 million new jobs.
Federal funding for U.S. water systems has declined dramatically since its peak in the late 1970s. In 1977, the federal government spent $76.27 a year per person on water services. By 2014 that support had fallen to just $13.68 per person—an 82 percent drop. The WATER Act will reverse the decades-long decline in federal water system funding by creating a dedicated, sustainable source of funding to improve and update water service lines, replace aging, lead-ridden pipes, prevent sewage spills and ensure that every household in the U.S. has reliable, healthy, affordable water service.
“It is profoundly encouraging to see so many Americans speaking up to defend our right to clean water for our basic needs,” said Rep. John Conyers. “In the richest nation in world history, adequate investment in our water infrastructure should not be controversial. I look forward to working closely with those both inside and outside of Congress until we have a modern water infrastructure system that guarantees all Americans access to clean and affordable water.”
“Water infrastructure repairs, water sanitation and affordability have become an unfathomable crisis across Michigan cities,” said Maureen D. Taylor, MSW of the Detroit People’s Water Board and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. “In Detroit, Flint and Highland Park, residents are poisoned on a daily basis by lead-contaminated drinking water. Despite our pleas and a Water Affordability Plan, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department continues its efforts to shut off water at up to 3,000 houses per week. The vast majority of these are at the homes of people too poor to pay for rate increases totaling 120 percent in the last decade, and where babies, senior citizens, chronically ill workers and people with disabilities reside. We desperately need passage of the WATER Act today!”