Washington, D.C. — Today, on the four-year anniversary of the start of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Representatives Keith Ellison and Ro Khanna introduced a crucial piece of water justice legislation: The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act. At a time when the White House seeks to gut federal regulations that protect water supplies and to encourage corporate exploitation of drinking water through privatization, the WATER Act is more important than ever.
In Michigan, and in many communities across the nation, residents still face increasing water shutoffs and rates for failing water systems. The WATER Act would make water service safer, more affordable and more accessible for urban and rural areas alike — including communities like Flint, Baltimore, and Martin County, Kentucky, which recently saw an emergency rate increase to deal with a catastrophically failing system.
“It has been four years since the Flint water crisis began, and communities in Flint and across the country are still suffering from a lack of access to safe drinking water,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, a lead cosponsor of the WATER Act. “We are one of the richest nations in the world, and we have an abundance of natural resources, including water. This is unacceptable and I’m proud to introduce the WATER Act to guarantee clean, safe water for all.”
"Fourteen million U.S. households are struggling to pay for water that too often isn't even safe to drink," said Rep. Ro Khanna, a lead cosponsor of the WATER Act. "Decades of federal underinvestment has left many communities, particularly low-income and minority neighborhoods, with leaky and contaminated water systems. It's past time that we ensure everyone in this country has access to the most basic human need: clean drinking water."
The WATER Act legislation would benefit American families and provide $35 billion a year to improve drinking water and wastewater services by dedicating a source of federal funding for community water and wastewater systems, distributed through the existing State Revolving Funds (SRFs). It would also provide grants to replace lead service lines going into homes, remove lead pipes and plumbing in schools, construct and improve household drinking water wells and upgrade home septic systems.
The WATER Act stands in sharp contrast to the vision for infrastructure outlined by the Trump administration: regulatory rollbacks, privatization schemes, corporate giveaways, and toll and water bill increases, all of which disproportionately burden vulnerable communities and the environment. Instead of forcing everyday working Americans to shoulder the full cost of safe water, the WATER Act ensures Wall Street is paying its fair share. It rolls back a small portion of the Trump administration’s corporate tax cuts to provide a long-term, sustainable source of funding for safe and clean water.
The WATER Act is cosponsored by Reps. Ellison*, Khanna*, Cartwright, Capuano, Huffman, Wasserman Schultz, Norton, Moore, Pocan, Brown, Bustos, Velázquez, Lawrence, Barragán, McGovern, Meng, Gabbard, Johnson, Schakowsky, Kildee, Welch, Carbajal, Lofgren, McCollum, Watson Coleman, Jayapal, Espaillat, Yarmuth, Maloney, Nadler, Shea-Porter, Raskin, DeSaulnier, Grijalva, Quigley, Luján and Carson.
“As more and more communities reveal chronic and deep-rooted water emergencies, legislation to counteract Trump’s infrastructure scheme becomes more and more urgent,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “The WATER Act is the path our elected officials need to take in order to fix our inexcusable and long-standing water issues in the United States. It provides affordable and clean water for all, creates jobs, prevents further water tragedies, and ensures the corporations that have exploited our communities for decades are finally held accountable.”
The WATER Act has been endorsed by 90 groups, including the following national organizations: ACRE; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Clean Water Action; Corporate Accountability; Corporate Campaign, Inc.; Earthjustice; Food & Water Watch; Greenpeace; Hip Hop Caucus; In the Public Interest; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW); Lady Freethinker; NAACP; National Committee for an Effective Congress; National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association; National Nurses United (NNU); Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth; People Demanding Action; People's Action; PolicyLink; Progressive Congress Action Fund; Progressive Democrats of America; Public Citizen; River Network; Rural Coalition; Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP); Sisters of Charity Federation; Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas' Institute Justice Team; Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice; The Story of Stuff Project; and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW).
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]