Washington, D.C.—“Food & Water Watch praises the $1 trillion plan to overhaul our nation’s infrastructure released today by Senate Democrats as a step forward for our water systems. Their plan stands in stark contrast to Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan, which would give major tax breaks to Wall Street to privatize our infrastructure.
“The Senate Democrat’s Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure offers a positive alternative, particularly for anyone who drinks water or relies on it to flush toilets, bathe and clean—everyone, in short. Decaying water pipes often mean toxic water and unaffordable water rates. This problem goes way beyond those seen in Flint, Mich. According to a USA Today review of EPA records, about 100,000 people get their drinking water from utilities that discovered high lead but failed to treat the water to remove it, and some 4 million Americans get water from small operators who skipped required tests or did not conduct the tests properly.
“On a per capita basis, federal funding has declined 82 percent since its peak. In 1977, the federal government spent $76.27 per person (in 2014 dollars) on our water services, but by 2014 that support had fallen to $13.68 per person. According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, we must spend at least $697 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade our water infrastructure.
“The plan unveiled today will dedicate $110 billion to water and sewer systems over the next decade, primarily through the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and USDA water programs. It will also create up to 2.5 million jobs and gives states flexibility to provide more grants to local water projects. This helps give communities the resources they need to modernize and maintain critical drinking and wastewater systems. Less positive however, is the increased funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which will encourage corporate control of water systems, a practice that has been shown to lead to degraded service and increase costs for consumers.
“Overall, this Blueprint will be a step forward for our water infrastructure. We call on the Senators to use it as a guide to aggressively defend public funding for our public water and sewer systems from cuts under the Trump administration. A memo leaked yesterday revealed that Trump’s team plans to gut the state and tribal assistance grants that capitalize the State Revolving Fund programs.
“Water is not a partisan issue, it’s a basic human right. We call on all members of Congress to support this plan, particularly those from communities whose water is unaffordable and unsafe to drink. Ultimately, Congress must establish a dedicated, annual source of funding for local water and sewer systems. That is the only way to ensure safe, affordable water for current and future generations.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]