Washington, D.C. – As Scott Pruitt’s mounting ethics controversies erupted in the media last week, the EPA quietly released its “6th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment,” which estimates that $472.6 billion is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years—a 10 percent increase in real terms over the last survey in 2011. The vast majority of this need is to “replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating” pipes, including lead pipes.
This assessment signifies the amount of money that U.S. water systems need to spend to provide safe drinking water to the public, and does not include wastewater (including sewage treatment) or stormwater needs.
In response, Food & Water Watch's Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:
“Last week, while the EPA was embroiled in Scott Pruitt’s escalating ethics controversies, the agency quietly posted its latest report showing that our water systems will require nearly half a trillion dollars over the coming 20 years. This is a stunning development amid a backdrop of worsening water infrastructure crises across the country. From Flint, Michigan, which is still reeling from lead contamination discovered years ago, to Martin County, Kentucky, an impoverished community facing rate increases for a catastrophically failing system, dozens of communities are already struggling to maintain and upgrade drinking water systems. What’s more, cities like Detroit and Baltimore are seeing water rates rise to deal with decaying infrastructure, service cut off for non-payment and homes lost to tax sale over unaffordable water bills.
“Meanwhile, a leaked memo from the EPA this week shows that Pruitt wants to remove regional office Clean Water Act veto power over the Army Corps’ approval of infrastructure projects like oil pipelines that harm our water resources and communities—and instead retain that authority only for himself, knowing he will never exercise it.
“Pruitt also has yet to strengthen rules that govern lead levels in drinking water, despite his public statements that it was a high priority for the agency last year. And he’s been fast at work deregulating key environmental protections during his entire tenure as EPA chief.
“Ethics scandals aside, Pruitt has been nothing short of a disaster for the environment and our drinking water. On his policy record alone, he must go.
“Additionally, Congress must finally act and pass legislation that fully funds our drinking water needs so that safe, affordable drinking water flowing from our taps does not become a distant memory for our children.”
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]