Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, D.C. – “Yesterday, a new report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that less than half of U.S. school districts test for lead in drinking water, and among those that did test, more than a third found elevated levels of lead. It is urgent that we provide federal funding and proper oversight to ensure that the water in our children’s schools is not causing irreparable harm.
“We need federal regulations requiring that all schools test for lead in the water, and then eliminate it where found. And we need federal funding to support this effort—not tax cuts for billionaires.
“There is legislation that would provide the much-needed federal funding to upgrade our drinking water infrastructure, in part through rolling back these poisonous tax cuts. The WATER Act would fund a giant effort to upgrade all of our drinking water infrastructure, including aging, lead-ridden pipes. It would also upgrade our wastewater systems and avert a looming affordability crisis. It would create a grant program to replace lead piping and plumbing in public primary and secondary schools. By increasing the corporate income tax rate by a 3.5 percentage points, the WATER Act would provide $35 billion every year to help ensure every American has safe and affordable water—at home and at school.
“The fact that we are failing our children so miserably today will have ramifications for decades to come. Lead is a neurotoxin that can have lifelong effects for children that are exposed. We’ve known this for decades. The lack of political courage amongst our leaders on this issue has been astounding. While Congress has the wherewithal to pass tax cuts for billionaires, they have done little to nothing to ensure that our drinking water systems stay up to the task of delivering safe and clean water to all communities.
“It is no mystery that lead is a problem that is rampant throughout our schools and throughout all of our aging water systems. Why our federal leaders haven’t addressed this problem with a funding solution yet defies belief. But it’s never too late to do the right thing. Congress should pass the WATER Act to ensure the safety of our drinking and wastewater systems for decades to come.”
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]