House Invests in Water, More Support Needed

Debt relief and lead service line replacements are pivotal victories for water justice, but a permanent funding solution must be passed

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Clean Water

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed the INVEST Act (HR 3684), which provides funding authorizations for drinking water and wastewater improvements, including $45 billion to eliminate lead service lines and $4 billion in household water debt relief tied to a five-year water shutoff moratorium. 

Among the provisions, the act will provide the largest reauthorizations of the State Revolving Fund programs: $12 billion for fiscal year 2022, which is 2.5 times the amount passed in the Senate. It will also support water access and affordability by increasing the amount of grants and other additional subsidization for disadvantaged communities to up to 50 percent of wastewater and 40 percent of drinking water State Revolving Loan funds; requiring a study water affordability, discrimination and civil rights violations; and authorizing low-income water and wastewater assistance programs.

In addition to authorizing $45 billion to remove lead service lines with a ban on partial lead service line replacements, it will authorize $1 billion over 10 years to filter lead from school water, require the EPA to establish enforceable regulations to limit PFAS (in particular PFOA and PFOS) in drinking water, and require the EPA to limit plastic pellet pollution. 

In response to the vote, Mary Grant, the Public Water for All Campaign Director at Food & Water Watch, issued the following statement: 

“We applaud the House for its commitment to eliminate lead service lines and provide significant household water debt relief with a five-year shutoff moratorium. Households are being crushed by billions of dollars of water debt and need this relief urgently. And while this legislation offers a bolder response than the Senate’s water bill, the funding levels for water improvements are still not enough. We must seize the opportunity provided by ongoing infrastructure negotiations and ensure the critical, transformative water funding the country really needs. Inclusion of the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act in any infrastructure package would provide a permanent water solution and ensure stronger, more resilient and more accessible water systems. 

“Congress must reject the White House’s ill-conceived bipartisan framework that would privatize water systems through public-private partnerships and asset recycling. Our communities cannot afford that compromise on water.”