It’s Water Week, a time to connect with the public, decision makers and one another about the role of water in our daily lives. WaterNow members continue making these connections by engaging with Congress on vital, innovative water infrastructure programs.
Congress is looking at America’s Water Infrastructure Act 2020 and Drinking Water Infrastructure Act 2020 and the federal budget for FY21, as well as additional efforts to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on utilities and their communities in the coming weeks. We can all share with federal policymakers the message that investing in efficiency, conservation, reuse, green infrastructure and other localized solutions spurs economic renewal and community resilience.
That message was highlighted in letters from 147 WaterNow members and local water leaders to the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and Energy and Water Development House Appropriations Subcommittees requesting increased funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, WaterSMART, and other key federal water programs. WaterNow has also submitted comments to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in support of the important efficiency, conservation, and green infrastructure programs laid out in the AWIA 2020 and DWIA 2020. These drinking water, water treatment, and stormwater infrastructure funding programs can catalyze sustainable, localized solutions that not only meet water, wastewater, and stormwater management challenges but create permanent, green jobs, more green space in communities, and cleaner air.
We will keep you posted on specific recommendations including:
- prioritizing federal funding for localized infrastructure,
- making additional grants or forgivable-loans available for efficiency, conservation, green infrastructure and other distributed options,
- providing federal support for utilities interested in shifting towards more sustainable business models that treat water like a service instead of a commodity, and
- establishing a permanent water assistance program for low-income consumers.
Water affordability is rightfully in the spotlight given the basic human right for everyone to have access to clean, safe, and affordable water and the increased immediacy of these needs flowing from the coronavirus pandemic. One of WaterNow’s new members, Councilmember Scott Benson of Detroit, Michigan, drafted a far reaching resolution urging Congress to create and fund a federal water affordability program. Councilmember Benson’s resolution was just adopted by the City’s Water and Sewerage Department Board of Water Commissioners and can serve as a strong template for other municipalities to use in joining the urgent conversation about access to safe and affordable water and sanitation for basic living needs, and reflects one of the key water-related proposals being considered by Congress in connection with COVID-19 response.
In these hard times, it is key that we invest in solutions that bring multiple benefits to communities while meeting essential water services. Localized water infrastructure offers these solutions and the time is now to accelerate their adoption.